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Arts & Culture

At Kennedy's Burial Ceremony, Even 'Bugle Was Weeping'

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now, throughout the program, we've been looking back on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, 50 years ago today. Knedy would be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. A horse-drawn caisson brought his coffin there.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST OF DRUMS AND HORSES)

GREENE: As the president was laid to rest, a bugler, Army Sgt. Keith Clark, had an awesome responsibility - delivering a note of finality with the playing of "Taps." It's something he had done perfectly, hundreds of times.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST OF "TAPS")

GREENE: But on the sixth note, the instrument itself seemed to choke up.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST OF "TAPS")

GREENE: It was a mistake that to many, captured the solemn moment. Historian James Swanson recently told the Washington Post, it was the perfect ending to four days of national mourning. As he put it: It's like the bugle was weeping.

The bugler, Keith Clark, said that quivering note came from the enormous pressure he felt as he helped the nation say goodbye to a fallen leader.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST OF "TAPS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.