JFK, and the band played on
And the band played on:
At 2 p.m., the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Friday afternoon concert began like any other. The orchestra stuck to the program until 2:35 p.m., when it took a brief break. When conductor Erich Leinsdorf returned to the stage, he did not lift his baton to the orchestra. Instead, he gazed out into the audience, forced to share some terrible news.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have a press report over the wires,” he told the crowd. “We hope that it is unconfirmed, but we have to doubt it.
“The president of the United States has been the victim of an assassination,” Leinsdorf said to loud gasps from the crowd. “We will play the funeral march from Beethoven’s Third Symphony.”
I was in grade school when the principal crackled in over the intercom to tell us that the President had been shot. We must have been sent out to recess because that’s where I astutely noted that if John F. Kennedy died, we wouldn’t have school the next day (I was just a kid, ok?!). Later we were told he indeed had been assassinated – murdered – but I don’t think we went home early. But you have to remember we were still duck and covering then, and the Cuban Missile Crisis wasn’t that long before, the scare was still there. Did Khrushchev kill our president? Would we go to war?, be bombed?
Of course we didn’t have school the next day and we all, all of us across the nation, spent the next week glued to the television set.
There we saw Jack Ruby murder Lee Harvey Oswald, that one is hard to forget. But what I remember most was the funeral procession, with the caisson, the six white horses, and the wee JFK jr saluting his father as his casket went by.
My parents were conventional Republicans, I did not grow up in a household that idolized JFK, and to be honest, I never did. But I know enough now to know we were robbed of a better future that day, it was a day that changed the world.
H/T for the video: David Kurtz
Editor’s Note: Join JP Sottile and Lisa Derrick Monday night as they host John Barbour to discuss the JFK assassination and The Garrison Tapes, 8pm ET, 5pm PT. See JP’s primer on the assassination and his anti-conspiracy conspiracy post here.
Added: Here’s EdwardTeller aka Philip Munger’s Elegy for JFK which premieres this evening in Anchorage, Alaska