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NEWS STORIES

Remembering President Kennedy in the NorthwoodsSubmitted: 11/22/2013
Story By Lauren Stephenson


RHINELANDER - We will all experience at least one moment in life we'll never forget.

For many people, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was one of those moments.

"Everybody couldn't imagine...What happened?" remembers Shirley Swearingen.

"I was confused and shocked. And watched it on TV," adds Susan Piazza.

Fred Kauzrich loved politics growing up. The news of President Kennedy's assassination came as a shock: "It's something that doesn't happen usually in most people's lifetimes."

Walter Meyer remembers where he was when he heard the news.

"I was working at the Rhinelander Paper Company and one of the supervisors came out and told me that President Kennedy had just been assassinated," he recalls.

"It was parent-teacher conferences that day," says Susan Piazza. "My parents went to my teachers to find out how I was doing and they came out after the conference and they were crying. And I thought, 'Oh my goodness, I didn't realize I had done that badly.' But that was not the case at all."

Sam Metoyier was serving a tour of duty in Schweinfurt, West Germany.

"I was with the Third Division. And I was out in the field and everybody in our forces would tell us that, 'Hey, you know Kennedy just got shot?' And we all said a prayer for him at the time," he recalls. "It was very hard on the military forces because we knew we could expect anything from our enemies. We knew that we had to stand our ground and just keep on going."

When asked how he thinks the day changed our country, Walter Meyer responds, "I often wonder what it would have been like if he wouldn't have been assassinated, how much of a change he'd have made in the country."

Though 50 years ago, the anniversary "brings back emotion and a whole lot of thought about what happened that day, and the fact that it happened shortly after, a few years after, to his brother. That it is real. It did happen. And it's a sad day for everyone," says Piazza.

Walter Meyer sums up why it's important to commemorate the anniversary.

"You have to remember history. If you don't remember history, you tend to repeat it."

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Peter Anderson has been a fireworks organizer for the city of Eagle River for several years.

"We've been doing it for a long time," he said. "We hire a fireworks company to come in and do it every year for us. It's just kind of a tradition to celebrate the 4th of July."

Many communities in the Northwoods put on firework displays. And those displays can cost quite a bit of money.

"Right around $9000 is what we spend in Eagle River," said Anderson. "It all goes right towards the fireworks. Everything else is volunteer; we get the land donated to us, we get everybody's time donated to us, and all of the money goes directly towards the fireworks."

Anderson says a big reason his community does a display is so people can celebrate on the fourth safely.

"I'm on the fire department; that's one of the reasons why I got involved with it was to have a nice big community firework display so that people don't have to do their own displays," said Anderson.

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