LIVING WITH THE MILITARY
Probably no more significant or defining moment in my life could top the assassination of our 35th President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. I know-most of my peers would say the same.
We were all in grade school. It was November 22, 1963. My father was stationed at the Boston Naval Shipyard, now known as the Charlestown Navy Yard. This was the home of the First Naval District and the fabled wooden warship, the USS Constitution ("OId Ironsides"). My siblings and I were attending local Catholic schools. The younger ones were at St. Catherine of Siena in Charlestown and the eldest was at St. Rose of Lima in Chelsea where, my brother Felix, my sister Nancy and I, were born. We are first-generation Italian-American on my father's side. Second on my mother's. Their families settled mainly in the Boston area. Dad was eleven years old then. It was 1927, and the US was pitching toward the Great Depression.
Because we were living in Boston at the time, JFKs murder was brought full-square into our young lives We sat in front of that 19" B&W Zenith TV and watched the whole bewildering event. We watched for three days. It was surreal from beginning to end. Of course, Boston was shut down. Again, television-which had brought us Ed Sullivan, Ozzie and Harriet, Sky King, Have Gun Will Travel, Howdy Doody and all those great shows- would now also bring us horror and tragedy on an unimagineable scale. And this would only be the beginning.
My father had joined NROTC at Yale when WW II broke out. He didn't intend to remain in the military but eventually chose a career. He was active for 33 years so our lives were very intertwined with the military.
The shipyard had once produced some of the most famous ships in naval history. In the 60s it was mostly a repair facility with gigantic drydocks, cranes and a lot of personnel. There was a Marine barracks located there. The Marines guarded all of the five gates around the shipyard.