In many a history of the Kennedy assassination during the past 50 years, mention has been made of the Boston Symphony Orchestra concert that was going on that awful Friday afternoon, and how the ensemble changed the program to play the Funeral March from Beethoven's "Eroica."
I have long wondered what that concert must have been like, how the audience responded when conductor Erich Leinsdorf broke the news, how the performance sounded. Audio from that event surfaced almost a year ago on -- where else? -- YouTube and has received a fresh burst of attention during observances of the 50th anniversary of the assassination.
I decided to wait until today to listen to and post the clip. It's just as chilling and moving as I expected it to be, a fitting way to reflect on what happened long ago.
For those of a certain age, we know how true it is that you will never forget where you were on Nov. 22, 1963, never forget the experience of dealing with such emotional history, even if you were too young to grasp all of it. Just watching all the adults around you made a deep impression.
There was the stangeness and confusion of being hastened by the nuns to the church next to our school for prayers before being dismissed early, without really grasping why.
What really sticks with me, though, is the nighttime vigil. Being a Washingtonian meant not just feeling, but being, very close to the events as they unfolded. I recall well heading down the street with my family to stand on what you might call a grassy knoll, this one overlooking Suitland Parkway, the road the presidential party used on the way from Andrews Air Force Base after returning from Dallas.
I'll always remember the quiet as a small group of people stood waiting, then the sound of motors and the sight of a hearse going by, everything dark but for the surprisingly bright color of pink inside.
In my mind's eye, I have always seen the woman in the pink suit leaning back, her left hand touching the coffin, but that may be just a bad case of imagination mixing with memory. The solemnity of that night, though, was real and indelible.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun