It wasn’t until I checked the date on my Macbook while writing an email that I realized that today was the 51st anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. I found that a little disturbing, as the realization of the anniversary came to me without my looking it up for years and years. 40 years ago it would have been impossible to imagine an America in which every anniversary of that event was not at the forefront of all minds.
It’s sometimes hard for me to remember that many of my current colleagues weren’t even born when Kennedy was killed in Dallas by a former US Marine who had defected to the Soviet Union and then returned home to Texas. Those of us who were alive and past infancy in 1963 remember that day vividly. I was sitting in 8th grade Spanish class when the PA system came on with what we found out later was a direct feed off radio. It took a few minutes for us to figure out just what was going on. It might have been the single most disorienting and terrifying day of my entire life; at least I can hope so.
One of the most memorable items on YouTube regarding the Kennedy assassination is a recording of a live radio feed from a concert by the Boston Symphony, covering both Erich Leinsdorf’s announcement to the audience and the orchestra’s performance of the slow movement of the Eroica. It’s worth listening to, not least because of the audience’s audible shock and dismay. 51 years ago, of course, no one was checking their smartphones, so the news came as real news to the 2,000 or so Bostonians in attendance – some of whom undoubtedly knew Kennedy personally.