Forty years have passed since I sat waiting for my German class to begin and wondered why a radio commentator was talking about presidential assassinations.
The year 1963 was before cell phones and CNN. You could spend a whole day wrapped up in ordinary life - hurrying back and forth to class, hanging out - without a clue about what was going on in the rest of the world.
But that Nov. 22, the rest of the world intruded, slamming hard into our emotions. The events that followed the shooting of President John F. Kennedy were indelibly imprinted in our brains. Forty years is a long time, and yet, when the events of that late November are recalled, it seems like yesterday.
By the time German class started, I and everyone else in the class, in the building, had heard the news. We sat there like zombies. Herr Doktor Professor Gerhard Probst told us we were free to leave; he did not think it appropriate to hold class. Or perhaps he knew it would be wasted time trying to fit German around all that was racing through our minds.