01/20/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

November 22, 1963: Like a Rolling Bolt of Thunder

It's hard for me to imagine the complete state of shock that gripped the nation -- really the whole world -- when President Kennedy was assassinated 45 years ago today, on November 22, 1963, and then assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was slain two days later on national television. I was an infant at the time. Books have been written about the politics and the conspiracies, but what about the national mood during those weeks of sorrow and uncertainty after the tragedy? What was the average person feeling? My only real point of reference for understanding the aftermath is a song I once heard on the radio, a song that seems to get at some of the emotions Americans were dealing with, late December back in '63. The song takes me back to those days: Americans feeling as if they'd been hit by a rolling bolt of thunder, spinning their heads around, taking their bodies under. People didn't even know the feeling's name, they just knew they were never going to be the same. I wonder a lot of things about that terrible time. I wonder whether Oswald knew it was coming, if he got a funny feeling when he walked into the room? It all happened so fast -- did viewers recall it ended much too soon? And there was a special lady. Hypnotizing, mesmerizing me. She was everything I dreamed she'd be. What a lady. What a night. Looking back, it seemed so wrong, but now it seems so right. And historians can merely ask: why'd it take so long to see the light?