Sunday, September 9, 2012
the last book I ever read (Katharine Graham's Personal History, excerpt ten)
from Personal History by Katharine Graham:
On November 22, 1963, I had invited my old friends Arthur Schlesinger and Ken Galbraith to have lunch with the editors of Newsweek to discuss their views of the “Back of the Book” section of the magazine. I stopped by the White House to pick up Arthur, who was working there t the time, and we flew to New York and assembled for lunch with Ken, Fritz, and all the top editors and others concerned. We were having drinks when someone came flying down the hall, stuck his head in, and said, “The president has been shot.”
Our reaction was disbelief—either there was a mistake or it would be all right—yet we were panic-stricken. We rushed to a television set, and the reports quickly made it apparent that the situation was very serious. A Secret Service man, Clint Hill, who had accompanied Jackie to India when Ken was ambassador there, was quoted as saying that he though the president had been fatally wounded. Ken said, “If that comes from Clint Hill, it has to be taken seriously.” When the horrifying news came that the president was dead, we moved quickly to get to the airport to return to Washington. Ken later recalled the contrast between the total crushing feeling in the car and the still-exuberant noonday crowds, who hadn’t yet heard what had happened.
When we got back to Washington, we went together to the White House. I was reluctant to go, since I was much less close to the Kennedys than either Ken or Arthur, but they both insisted I come with them, so I did. We went into a room full of people in which Ted Sorenson was giving orders. After we’d been there a short time, he looked up impatiently and asked everyone who didn’t have a specific job to do and a right to be there to clear the room, at which point I departed, certain the remark was aimed at me, even though a great many other people left, too.