Rich Galen

Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas.

Anyone over the age of 55 will be asking everyone else over the age of 55: "Where were you when you heard the news?" We all know exactly where we were.

Here's my story.

I was a senior at West Orange Mountain High School in West Orange, New Jersey.

I was in drama class in the auditorium and the teacher, Miss Levin, asked me to go backstage to get some piece of business that she needed to demonstrate a point.

While back there, I spotted a radio and I turned it on. I don't remember what station I tuned it to, but it was probably WABC-AM radio because they played a lot of Beatle's tunes.

The first reports from Dallas were just coming in. Those reports indicated that both President Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon Johnson had been shot.

They were in error. The second person shot was Texas Governor John Connelly - about whom, more later.

I had just read - remember I was 16 at the time - I had just read the thriller "Seven Days in May" which has to do with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff plotting a coup against the President.

I said aloud "Oh, my God. It's coming true," even though I was alone.

I ran out to the stage and told Miss Levin what I had heard. She instructed me to go to the Central Office and tell them.

I was such a pest in high school that I had a reserved seat on the naughty bench in the central office where I would sit until the Assistant Principal could get to me, patiently explain to me how I was ruining my life, bringing shame and dishonor to my family, and then mete out an appropriate punishment for whatever horror I had committed.

I stopped off at the classroom of my Social Studies teacher, Mr. Vince Mirandi (who was also the school soccer coach) to tell him what had happened.

Someone in the back of the class, knowing about my reserved spot in the central office shouted, "Let's wait until we hear something official over the loudspeaker."

I can't remember who that was, but it would not surprise me to find out he is a high ranking official at the NSA today.

As soon as the officials could get the buses organized, school was dismissed. I got a ride home from someone and as I remember it my mom had gone out to collect my younger brother and sister from their schools. My older brother was at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and out of her range.

She took us to our Synagogue where others had already gathered

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at