Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

November 22, 2013

50 YEARS LATER

JFK memories still fresh & chilling

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal —

His parents, Grace and Larry Budde, were in tears. “They were devastated. My mother prayed immediately,” said James, the youngest of three children. The family prayed together for the nation and for the Kennedy family. For the next few days, everyone was glued to the television. 

Budde began to appreciate the significance of what the United States meant in the world. His family bought “Life” magazine (at a cost of 25 cents) which had dramatic photographs. Some still bring chills.

He saved the magazine and began to learn more about the Kennedys. “It is the most fascinating family of modern times,” Budde said. “That family, although fascinating, has seen the most significant tragic times that a family could ever endure.”

What does Budde think about JFK today? “He’s admired. He’s revered. I think kids, who did not know him, know as much about him as any other president. A lot of kids today still today identify with him.”

•••

Bob Fritton, 72, of Wright Corners grew up in the Town of Lockport and joined the Marines two years after graduating from Starpoint High School. John F. Kennedy was his Commander in Chief.

Fritton was stationed in Okinawa with the Third Marine Division and standing in the Quonset hut chow line with comrades at “Zero Dark 30.” That is, after midnight and before 6 a.m. 

The bugler who woke marines up for breakfast recalled, “The sun hadn’t come up yet and there were many voices, like a soft murmur. Then, in an instant, a brief silence,” Fritton said. “The silence turned into a roar with the words ‘the president has been killed.”

The assassination took place on Nov. 22 in Dallas, but it was Nov. 23, on the other side of the world when Fritton’s mates learned of it.

At the time, Fritton wondered who killed Kennedy and where it happened. When he thinks about JFK today, he thinks about the young PT 109 commander, putting a man on moon and getting the Equal Rights Amendment passed.

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