The Day My President Died

Sabrina Lopez, Guest Writer

I remember it as if it were yesterday. I, Thomas Melton, escorted the President off the plane after we traveled from Fort Worth, Texas to Dallas, Texas.  We planned to drive through Dealey Plaza, Texas and arrive at . At this point, I had worked for Mr. John F. Kennedy, as one of his security guards, for 2 years, and so I knew his love for big crowds and as many supporters as possible. He and Jackie, the First Lady, were ecstatic to see the crowds that met them once they got off the plane.

President Kennedy requested a special 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible to take him and his wife down the streets of Dallas. The crowds were more enthusiastic about this upcoming presidential election than ever before. I ran approximately five feet away from the vehicle to insure the President’s safety. The car drove the President and Jackie along with the mayor of Dallas, Governor John Connally, and his wife, Nellie Connally. Jackie became popular in the country and around the world. John F. Kennedy would bring her along because she attracted the huge crowds.

At around 12:30pm central time, my life changed forever. When the shots rang out, my first thought was “Is the President hurt? If so, get him IMMEDIATE help.” But at the same time, a second thought ran through my head that made me put into perspective just how dangerous this situation could be for myself and for my family.

If I lost my life while doing my job, my wife, Rosie, and my twin daughters, Macy and Vivian, would have no one to rely on. My income supports the majority of our livelihood. Rosie, a kindergarten teacher, would struggle to provide without me. But I had made an oath to protect my president and serve my country, and that is what I had to do. I sprinted to the President’s aid with a reaction time of about three seconds from hearing the shot.

I think I heard three shots from over my left shoulder, from the Texas School Book Depository building. While running to the President’s aide, I saw Jackie jump onto the trunk of the car to pick up what seemed to be pieces of the president’s brain.  Blood stained her pink quilted suit and skirt, but she did not care about her appearance at the moment. My co-worker, Clint Hill, also rushed to the vehicle.

Once I got to the car, my heart sank. I saw the mayor in distress from a shot to the back, but Mr. Kennedy remained my main concern. The President was shot and severely wounded. Two bullets hit him: one on his head and one on his neck. “How could we have let this happen?” I screamed to myself over the loud commotion of the situation. Could I have stopped this pain? At that moment I felt like a failure.

We then rushed to the Parkland Memorial Hospital at a high speed. I stood to the right of the President’s stretcher on the way in, along with the emotional Jackie. Once inside, the doctors ordered that I stay outside of the operating room. I pushed and argued with the strongest words I could muster that I, John F. Kennedy’s security guard must stay with the president at all times. They saw the urgency in my face and agreed let me through to the operating room.

It did not look good. From what I could tell, the President was on the verge of losing his life and I could not help him anymore. “WILL HE MAKE IT SIR! TELL ME IF HE WILL BE OK!” No response. The disappointed surgeon told my with his eyes, and I reluctantly knew the outcome. He then picked up the wall phone and urgently dialed his supervisor.

I lost my father at the young age of 12 due to a motorcycle accident, but this…this hit me harder than anything. That’s how disappointed and mad I felt about this loss. I felt like I let the country, and possibly the world, down.

I needed to calm myself down from this stress so I left the room and stared, blankly, out the window. This might have been against protocol but I could not contain myself. I felt a tear roll slowly down my cheek as I saw crowds of reporters and paparazzi flocking towards the hospital doors. Who would tell them that the great leader of this nation has passed? To that man or woman, I wished them luck. I needed to be there with the President at all times, even though the President died. I quickly regained my composure and rushed to his side.

I then saw a pale and bloody body; an innocent man, undeserving of this catastrophe. Suddenly, Bill Wilson rushed into the room and whispered in my ear a name, that the team had suspected the possible shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald. “They think he shot the president from the third floor of the Texas School Book Depository,” said Bill. My suspicion was right about where the shots came from. I had no idea how much hatred I would feel towards the shooter, too much to contain. All I hoped for, from that moment forward, was justice.

As I sat in the corner of the operating room, I took out a piece of paper and began to write a note to Rosie. It started, “Dear Rosie…I saw it all happen right in front of me.”




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