50 Years Later, the Kennedy Assassination Still Haunts a Generation

As children, Baby Boomers absorbed the violence, shock and sense of vulnerability -- and can't forget

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Viewing even just one traumatic event like the assassination can produce all the symptoms of PTSD, Feuerbacher said.

"The fact that he was not only killed, but it was caught on live camera, individualized the trauma so that it was like watching a family member die, an entirely new playing field for the world," she noted. "Boomers all had a bit of PTSD. If you had not experienced the assassination, your life would have been different. You wouldn't have felt that vulnerability at such a young age."

Feuerbacher warned that just seeing a 50th anniversary special or news report about the assassination can be harmful to the elementary-school children of today. Fifty-year-old TV footage can seem violent, and young children may not realize that what they're watching happened half a century ago.

"Watching it on television is different from going to a museum. To actually see it occurring on television is a very real experience for a young child," she said.

For Baby Boomers with teenage children or grandchildren, Feuerbacher suggested telling the teens: "I remember right where I was when we heard Kennedy had been shot."

Share the experience firsthand, she added: "It's a teachable moment to help make real something they're only reading about in a textbook."

More information

To learn more about coping with a traumatic event, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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