Vol. 14


The Window

1963; Grand Island, Nebraska, USA"The Window" illustration by David Evans: A child looks out the window and sees a U.S. flag at half mast

When I was six years old, I was in first grade at Wasmer Elementary School in Grand Island, Nebraska. I was just like any other six-year-old who was worried about what to do after school and what we were having for lunch. I did not have an understanding of what titles meant, except that when an older person told you to do something you always did it.

It was a chilly November day, and we had just come in from lunch when the principal came to our classroom to speak quietly with my teacher, Miss Glade. I could tell she was surprised by what he whispered. After he turned and quickly left our classroom, Miss Glade sat a few minutes and then asked all of us to quietly stand from our desks and walk over to the window of our room.

We all did exactly what she said, except we were noisy and loudly talking to each other the whole way over. Miss Glade was a first-grade teacher, and she did not usually raise her voice, but she raised her voice that day when she told us we must not speak and must stand quietly. She then quickly explained that the president, John F. Kennedy, had been killed while riding in the back of a car during a huge parade. I remember thinking that was sad, but I didn’t understand why we had to get up and go to the big glass window.

We watched as someone lowered the flag to half-staff, another event that I didn’t understand. We solemnly said the Pledge of Allegiance while they lowered that flag, and again I thought how strange it was, because we had already said the pledge that morning. Why would they lower the flag? Why were we saying the pledge again? What did all of this mean?

When I got home that day, my dad was already home and I could tell he was not himself. He was visibly upset. I asked him why, and he said, “John F. Kennedy was killed today.”

I said, “I know, but why is everyone so upset? Who exactly is the president of the United States, and why does his death upset so many people?”

My father looked a little taken aback, but he told me the importance of the president’s job and all the ways his decisions affect all of our lives. He told me why they slowly lowered the flag and why they always take it all the way to the peak before dropping it to half-staff. He said that the flag is lowered out of respect for the lives of those people who have dedicated their lives to making our lives better.

This event was life-changing for the entire world. This story was told to me by my grandma, and it helped me realize how important the president of the United States is to all of us and how fast an act of violence can affect so many people.

Callie Wadas; Nebraska, USA

Illustrator: David Evans; Missouri, USA



This copyrighted story may be copied and/or printed for limited classroom or personal use. To reprint this story in an article about The Grannie Annie, please contact The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration for permission.


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