The Norman Transcript


November 16, 2013

Remembering the day President Kennedy died



We cried and prayed together for our nation and knew Thanksgiving week would never be the same. As the oldest son, I remember hiding because I didn’t want my sisters or my parents to see me cry.


It had been more than 40 years since the assassination and PBS newsman Jim Lehrer was in Norman to accept an award. At a small, Boyd House dinner with President and Mrs. Boren and a few others, he shared his experience as a young Dallas reporter assigned to Love Field. Journalism had asked him about it a few hours earlier.

His job was to cover the presidential plane’s arrival, report back as to what time the plane touched down, what Mrs. Kennedy was wearing and any other details and then call it all back to his city desk. A telephone was set up for him on the tarmac and his city editor called to test the connection.

The editor asked what the weather was like and whether it was raining there. Would the president ride with the top down or leave the bubble top on the limousine?

Lehrer asked the Secret Service agent on duty and there was a discussion between them about the rain. It was decided to remove the top, a decision that has haunted Lehrer his entire career. One seemingly minor decision could have changed the course of history.

When he told that story at our dinner, suddently the tears that came to me at age 6 were back. Nearly everyone at dinner was crying. Only this time, there was no place for any of us to hide.

Andy Rieger


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