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Bob Nance: Remember Nov. 22 for more than JFK's death

By BY BOB NANCE
Nov. 21, 2013 at 5:21 a.m.

Bob Nance

Most of the country will remember Nov. 22, 1963, as the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a convertible in a motorcade near Dealey Plaza, near downtown Dallas.

I, too, vividly remember seeing the filmed coverage of the president with his wife at his side, shot in the head by a rifle fired by Lee Harvey Oswald.

Texas governor John Connally, seated in the front of the vehicle, was wounded in the shoulder and survived. Those images are burned into my memory.

Think of it. The president of the United States and the governor of the state of Texas are shot by a sniper using a 6.5 mm Italian carbine purchased for $19.95. No, it is not the plot of a mystery novel but the fact of the shootings in Dallas at the hands of self-described Marxist Lee Harvey Oswald.

Eleven days before his death, Kennedy had laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, where later an eternal flame was installed. The president's 98-year-old grandmother, Mary Josephine Fitzgerald, was never told about the assassination.

Jackie Kennedy modeled her husband's funeral on the services held for Abraham Lincoln. Dignitaries from at least a hundred countries arrived in Washington for the Kennedy funeral.

At least 250,000 people paid their respects as the body lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda, but tens of thousands were turned away, some after spending the night in near-freezing rain in a line that stretched nearly 2 miles.

The day of the funeral, Nov. 25, was the third birthday of the president's son, John Jr. His sister, Caroline, turned 6 two days later. The first two letters written by Lyndon B. Johnson as president were to John Jr. and Caroline.

Johnson was sworn in as president aboard Air Force One as it carried the late president and his wife, Jackie, and other close associates back to Washington from Dallas. Federal Judge Sarah Hughes administered the oath. Jackie was still wearing the blood-spattered pink dress she was wearing when her husband was killed, sitting beside her in a convertible. It has never been cleaned and is being kept in the National Archives until 2103. Jackie told Lady Bird Johnson she wanted people to see what they had done to her husband.

Oswald, who also shot and killed a Dallas police officer that day, was shot and killed on live network television Nov. 24 by a Dallas night club owner, Jack Ruby. Oswald would have been tried in a Texas court, since killing a president was not a federal crime at that time.

More than one writer has referred to Nov. 22, 1963, as a date of infamy, akin to the attack on Pearl Harbor 22 years earlier.

But I also remember the date a high school football player, Tom Schobel, 16, was injured in the opening kickoff of a playoff game in San Antonio and died of his injuries a month later.

Jimmy Traber and I were in San Antonio to broadcast the playoff game between Schulenberg Bishop Forrest and San Antonio St. Gerard. Bishop Forrest, by the way, won the game 30 to 6 and went on to win the state championship.

But before the game, driving to San Antonio, we were not sure the game would even be played because of the shock to the nation of the death of the popular chief executive.

When we arrived at the stadium, there was a group of men gathered, discussing whether to play the game or postpone it. It seemed the consensus was it was a sellout, the president was a football fan and a devout Catholic, the game was a sellout, and it might serve as a distraction from the assassination. And it was a sellout.

So, it was play the game and dedicate it to John F. Kennedy.

So Traber and I set up our equipment to broadcast the football game, unaware of the events to follow.

On the opening kickoff, the teenage Tom Schobel was injured and lay prone on the field until an ambulance arrived to carry him to a hospital. I'm not sure if he ever regained consciousness, only that he died a month later on Dec. 22.

I was amazed to learn later that his family included two of his nephews who were both players in the National Football League. They were Aaron Schobel with the Buffalo Bills and Matt Schobel with the Cincinnati Bengals.

So, if you say a prayer for John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, I hope you will say one for Tom Schobel, too.

Bob Nance, a longtime radioman, is retired and lives in Victoria.

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