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  • The weather was surprisingly warm on Friday, November 22, 1963. I left my Capital Hill apartment that morning in a blue dress shirt, slacks, and Bass Weejun loafers. At twenty-one, I worked for Structural Clay Products Institute.

    At 1:30 pm I went to lunch at the Dupont Pharmacy. It was 2:36 pm when I entered my office. No one was at the receptionist desk. But then I saw that the staff was crowded into the boardroom. I asked the secretary, “What’s happening?” She said, “The President’s been shot.”

    I looked up to see that everyone was watching Walter Cronkite on a large black and white television. Within a minute Cronkite took off his black horn-rim eyeglasses, “From Dallas, Texas, the flash, apparently official – President Kennedy died at 1:00 pm Central Standard Time, 2:00 pm Eastern Standard Time, some thirty-eight minutes ago.”

    I went back to the mailroom, where I was working, and started crying. The I said to myself, “I gotta get out of here!”

    I got my bus and returned to my apartment. At home I turned on my television. My partner, Stephen Miller, came home from the Capitol building where he was on the staff of the House Appropriations Committee. For the next four days, all television programming and commercials were cancelled.

    At 6:05 pm Air Force One landed at Andrews Air Force Base. JFK’s casket was unloaded, with Jacqueline and Robert Kennedy into a Navy ambulance.

    Late on Saturday morning Stephen and I took the bus down to the front of the White House. It was lightly raining. Kennedy’s body was lying in state. Diplomats were arriving to pay their respects.

    On Sunday afternoon, Stephen and I were on the Capitol grounds when Jacqueline Kennedy arrived with Caroline and John Jr. President Kennedy’s casket was carried up the Capitol steps. We watched John Jr. Salute his father.

    At 10:00 pm that Sunday evening, we got into line at East Capitol and Fourth Streets with tens of thousands of people, walking east with the enormous crowds to Lincoln Park and back again. We finally passed through the Rotunda of the Capitol on Monday morning at 7:00 am.

    For an entire year, I remained in mourning. John Kennedy was the first important person to die in my young life. I regarded his passing as if I had lost a family member.

    I had participated in Dr. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom the very same year. I was also on the Board of Directors of the Mattachine Society of Washington, the District’s first Gay-Rights group. John Kennedy was my hero, who stood for Civil Rights, the end of the Cold War, and had created the Peace Corps.
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