The 1960s Remembered: How National Events Shaped University of Omaha Students


Part Four JFK Assassination

One final “memorable” event of the 1960s, besides the financial distress of UO and Ms. Cody, was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22 1963. The Omaha community was obviously moved by this turn of events due to the front-page coverage of the JFK funeral in the Omaha World Herald in the days following the assassination. It is obvious that these images and news stories moved the students at UO, because many of the front-page clippings, including the images of JFK’s funeral and news reports from Washington D.C. November 23-26, were scrapbooked in the AFROTC/Angel Flight scrapbook (AFROTC Scrapbook 1964). UO also saw an outcry of emotion toward this tragedy.  In the editorial section of the December 6, 1963 issue of the Gateway, one of the letters to the editor eluded to the fact that the UO administration organized a moving memorial ceremony for President Kennedy that included a “wonderful choir… and three student speakers” (Gateway 2). The Gateway also ran a front-page story in the same issue that indicated students contributed nearly one thousand dollars in honor of the Kennedy Memorial Scholarship, a UO scholarship in his name (Gateway 1). Students raised the money via fundraising activities, such as a faculty-student basketball game, and by setting up booths at local Safeway grocery stores (Gateway 1). There were also pictures in the Gateway of a small JFK memorial booth, most likely located at a Safeway grocery store, which included a framed picture of the President and a floral arrangement (Gateway 1).

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy was the equivalent of September 11, 2001 for Gail Cody’s generation. It was a tragic event that united all members of that particular generational cohort together. Each person could remember where they were and how they heard about the assassination, and even though each memory might feature a different location or media through which the news reached them, in the end it united them in a memory.

In conclusion, this brief essay about the 1960s reveals just a small portion of the outermost layer of the environment that shaped students like Gail Cody’s day-to-day life as a student, sorority sister, student teacher, teacher of student teachers, and elementary school teacher. I hope readers will investigate more about not only Gail Cody’s experiences but also those of other women who lived through the 1960s.