I was sitting at the bar in the officer's club at Fort Greely, Alaska. I was eating a reindeer burger (cheaper than beef up there). I was a lieutenant and in Alaska for a course in arctic warfare. The black and white TV set suddenly stopped playing an episode of Ozzie and Harriet and the news reader announced that Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. He did not say that the president had died. Ozzie and Harriet resumed. I had another draft beer and contemplated. It was minus 45 degrees Fahrenheit outside and the wind was blowing as usual. The thought of standing in the cold and wind to wait for a post bus to take me and a friend back to our billet was just too much, just too much. The newsman came back on and told us all that Kennedy had died. There was complete silence in the bar. Not a word was said.
The next day there was a ceremony of remembrance held in front of the post headquarters. The sun was shining brightly. The storm flag was at half staff. It was frozen as solid as a plank. It beat itself against the staff so strongly that it seemed to share our grief. All military personnel were mustered in arctic kit (white) and on cross country skis. I remember how cold the ski poles were even through many layers of insulation. The post commander, a colonel, read a statement from the new commander in chief and Taps sounded over the PA system. At the last note, the first gun was fired in the beginning of a 21 gun cannon salute to the old commander in chief.
What had been a bright day was instantly transfomed into a dense fog. This is called arctic fog. It is caused by a sudden precipitation of ice crystals in the atmosphere. The gun did that.
It seemed a fitting thing. pl