It was a Friday when the news started to trickle in through television and radio. At first it seemed like some sort of sick joke and then it was followed by horror. When that evening’s News Virginian found its way to door steps all around Waynesboro the large bold letters on the front page were unmistakable… “Kennedy Dead.”
The way Waynesboro felt was the way the nation felt about the tragic news: disbelief, shock, and utter sadness. At a local beauty shop the normal chatter of women gossiping and laughing was replaced by the monotone sound of a radioman reporting the unfolding news. One lady at the beauty shop was quoted as saying, “You read about this happening in other countries and even halfway expect it, but this country! Why this puts us in a class with Viet Nam.”
Waynesboro Mayor W. Clark Jordan called on residents to pray for Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson as he assumed the responsibilities of the presidency. The flags in front of the city building were lowered to half staff. Waynesboro’s state delegate Felix E. Edmunds said, “I am greatly distressed as I am sure all Waynesboroians and people across the nation are by the news and great loss.” He too asked for prayers, especially for the Kennedy family. Delegate Edmunds also added, “I feel the nation has lost perhaps its greatest leader in modern times.”
At Fisburne Military School the cadets performed a special formation as a moment of respect for President Kennedy and scheduled a chapel service for the coming Monday. St. John’s Catholic Church held a special mass to a packed audience. And most local businesses closed their doors as a sign of respect.
For those old enough at the time to remember, November 22nd, 1963 will be a day they will always remember. They will always remember the moment they first heard the news that President Kennedy had been shot. It was indeed, one of the saddest days in Waynesboro’s history.