A friend noted on Facebook that November 22 is still "the most memorable of all dates for some of us." He quotes Mary McGrory as saying, at the time, "We'll never laugh again," to which Patrick Moynihan replied, "No, we'll laugh again. But we'll never be young again."
I was in my first grade classroom when the assassination happened. The teacher was called out of the room to hear something on the radio, which seemed very odd and unprecedented. Then we got the news, which verged on unfathomable for a group of middle class New York City 6-year olds. The Oswald shooting, which came a couple of days later then added a touch of yet further previously unimagined grotesque madness.
I nonetheless certainly still felt young for a long time afterwards, and I have laughed plenty since, albeit not about what happened on 11/22/63. Yet for me, and I know for many others in my age cohort, it was the first major crack for us in what one might now call the era's Leave It to Beaver edifice. But this now seems as if it ought to have been particular to people who were as young at the time as we were.
I was too young, as of 11/22/63, to know anything much about World War II or McCarthyism, or to have much understanding of what was going on with, say, the civil rights movement or the early stages in the lurch towards U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. So it really was a first hint that the world was more scary, dangerous, and chaotic than those in my age cohort, living in similarly benign and sheltered circumstances, had been led to assume. But, without belittling the immense immediate emotional impact of the tragedy, weren't the likes of McGrory and Moynihan old enough to have seen plenty of dark and horrible things before?