I was seven years old, in Grade two, living in Billings, Montana with my family. We were excited to hear that President Kennedy was going to visit Billings while on a tour of western states. The big day arrived and on Wednesday, Sept. 25, my mom took us kids out of school and we drove up to the airport where we saw his plane land and watched the President walk down the stairs onto the tarmac.
Knowing that he was only going to be in town for a couple of hours, we drove back down the rimrock road and parked in a large pullout on the side of the road where mom laid out a picnic lunch she had packed. My brother, sister and I excitedly talked about our experience and we even got more excited when mom told us his motorcade may pass us on his way back to the airport.
There was only one other car in the gravel pullout, when sure enough, in about an hour, we saw a police motorcycle escort coming slowly up the hill leading the President’s limousine back to the airport. We ran to the side of the road, and just as the President approached us, a man on a big pinto horse rode up behind us and he was carrying a huge American flag on a long staff.
I’ll never forget when the President tapped the driver on the shoulder telling him to slow down. Kennedy turned, waved, and with his huge Kennedy smile shouted, “Thank you, thank you for coming.” pointing at us all. We were only 20 feet away from President Kennedy, us three kids and the man on a horse.
Two months later, he was dead.