There are just a handful of historic events living Americans recognize have galvanized memories to the point that most everyone can recall with clarity where they were and what they were doing when news arrived.
Certainly the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 falls into that category, ushering, as it did, the United States into World War II. 9/11 is another such event, the opening salvo on American soil in a war against foreign terrorism that continues today.
And the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, 50 years ago today, can easily be so counted. Americans of a certain age well remember the tragedy; nothing quite like it ever happened before or since, for that matter.
Who committed the murder has been the subject of a number of books and motion pictures and near endless speculation. The Warren Commission, the official government group impaneled to identify the killer, found that Lee Harvey Oswald, a minimum-wage laborer in the Texas School Book Depository, did it all himself. The Warren Commission's findings are called the lone gunman theory.
Others, indeed a great many others, aren't as sure. They reject that someone like Oswald could have done it alone, believing a conspiracy must have been involved. Still others suggest that Oswald was all but uninvolved, serving only as the proverbial patsy in a complex plot.
But, for today, 50 years after the horrible fact, let's not invest a great deal of time wondering who or what may have murdered JFK, although for a great many, it remains an open question.
Additionally, let's try to minimize the energy invested in puzzling over the impact it may have had on the domestic and world scene. Certainly, though, it has been significant.
Rather, let's use today and the anniversary to keep in mind that someone's husband, father, brother and son was murdered in cold blood in front of the nation he served. That thought alone should give even the hardest of us pause.