The Kennedy assassination was the beginning of a series of very difficult events. We went through the protests on Vietnam. People felt the government hadn't been straight with them. What we call the "credibility gap" developed. In 1968 we had the horrible deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. Then came Watergate.
Americans grew more skeptical, and more cynical. Our confidence in institutions was shaken — all institutions, from government to universities and even churches. And we never quite got it back. We would never feel the same about any of those things as we did before John Kennedy's death.
Several nights after the assassination, I went back to the police beat. I was looking at this horrible car wreck, and I realized I was completely unmoved.
A police reporter sees a lot of death; every time you cover a story, you're walking in on the worst moment of someone's life. You need to put your emotions aside. But that doesn't mean you don't have any. Yet, in the weeks after the assassination, I realized I had completely expended whatever it is that causes you to have empathy. It took me a while to get that back. I think it was much the same for the country. It was, I've always said, the weekend America lost its innocence.
CBS News journalist Bob Schieffer has hosted the public-affairs program Face the Nation since 1991.
Where Were You on November 22, 1963?
It's the question that haunts millions of Americans who remember the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
AARP invites readers to share personal accounts from that time at AARP.org/JFK. In addition to contributing to a reader-generated blog, you can explore an interactive timeline, tour a gallery of photos, learn little-known facts and discover opportunities to volunteer in your community, as a new president once urged our generation to do. In the spirit of his famous inaugural address, "ask not" how the legacy of John Kennedy can inspire others. Let it inspire you. — Steve Mencher
Also of Interest
- Remembering JFK, 50 years after his assassination
- 4 surgeries you should probably avoid
- Learn how the Affordable Care Act can benefit you and your family
Visit the AARP home page every day for more politics and news