Herb Hernandez knew things were wrong just by watching the adults.
News of President John F. Kennedy’s death quickly spread through Elmhurst High School, and the sophomore began watching the somber looks on his teachers’ faces.
But he knew things were really wrong when he got home and found his mother crying as she sat on the couch, the TV news on in front of her.
All the adults were obviously distraught, the 65-year-old now recalls.
That’s when my interest in politics began. I wondered, How could one man have this effect on so many people?’
Hernandez once was on the Allen County Council and was at one time the president of the Greater Fort Wayne Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
In recent years, he’s been the executive director for United Hispanic-Americans Inc.
In his early teens, though, he hadn’t yet grasped the political process nor had an interest in current affairs.
That changed with the assassination.
When my dad got home (that night), he was upset, Hernandez said. He kept saying, He really cared about us Mexicans. He cared about the commoner.’
Raised in a Catholic family, Hernandez said his parents were die-hards for Kennedy and it was exciting to have a Catholic president.
By that night, though, Lee Harvey Oswald’s bullets had extinguished that excitement.
Dinner at the Hernandez house was quiet, and like the adults at school, very somber.
It was kind of like grieving, Hernandez said.