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11/21: A View from the Band: Coming of Age and the JFK Assassination


11/21: A View from the Band: Coming of Age and the JFK Assassination

It was a once in a lifetime experience turned tragic.  On the morning of November 22, 1963, a young John Sparks joined his fellow high school band members to play “Hail to the Chief” for President John F. Kennedy.  Hours later, like the rest of the world, Sparks learned of Kennedy’s assassination.

The experience shaped Sparks’ career path as a journalist., and as a native Texan, Sparks began to learn of unique personal connections that he had to the assassination of the president.  Years later, he would uncover more associations during his professional career as a journalist.  Five decades later, Sparks, who also serves as The Marist Poll’s Senior Website Editor, shares his unique perspective of that day in a 23 minute documentary, “A View from the Band: Coming of Age and the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy.”

Watch “A View from the Band” here.

In just the latest chapter in Sparks’ illustrious career in broadcast journalism, Sparks is currently co-host of The Texas Daily on KTXD-TV in Dallas, Texas.  To mark the anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination, Sparks will serve as Executive Producer and co-anchor during 12 hours of coverage tomorrow, Friday, November 22, 2013.  The special will air on Channel 47 in Dallas, beginning at 7 A.M. CST.  “JFK 50: A Texas Tribute” will also be streamed online at

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  1. Ann MacFarland Burley

    January 1, 2014 at 12:34 PM


    Thank you for your incredible work on this most important part of our history as a nation, that as you said, not many people will have any direct connection with as we did. I understand why you would decide to have this 50th anniversary of the loss of President Kennedy as your last. You have done such a wonderful job through the years in bringing this to the American public as those of us still remember intimately this very personal tragedy that historically affects our country now, as well as in many decades to come. I thank you for your great talent in journalism, spiked with care, love, and the compelling desire to inform those who were not here to be aware of the personal connection that many had with the loss of John F. Kennedy. You may not have chosen to become a teacher, but you are an excellent Educator just the same!

    Thank you, dear cousin! Ann Burley

  2. Roy Merrill

    December 1, 2013 at 12:07 AM


    Thanks so much for putting this together. Long time no see. I was in the TCU band after leaving Eastern Hills in 64. Curtis Wilson (our student band director at EHHS) and Prof. Jacobsen (TCU band director) talked about 11-22. I don’t know if you recall but TCU was supposed to play but cancelled last minute for “political” reasons as I recall. You’ve had a most impressive career! Congratulations. I’ve been in Colorado most of my life after getting out of the Navy in the early 70’s. I hope you can come to the class of 64 reunion. It would be great to see you. Thanks again for this great video. Roy Merrill

  3. Lanelle Cheslock

    November 26, 2013 at 12:46 AM

    Is there anywhere we can see the documentary for our families?
    If there is any way I could get a still photo of our band that day as we played for the President & Jackie at the breakfast….it would be greatly appreciated.
    The documentary is not on this Facebook post.
    Again, I thank you.

  4. Lanelle Cheslock

    November 25, 2013 at 11:49 PM

    I had heard one of our band mates was doing a special. We are so glad for you & sharing those memories only our band had together. Our school was eery when we got back..then we stood in disbelief as we heard the loud speaker in the halls. My children heard me tell this story all their lives & I think all the 50th coverage put it in perspective. We thank you. Lanelle

  5. Fayrene Farley

    November 22, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    John, I am SO PROUD of you!! You’ve had it in you to do something big like this! I will be watching as much of the program as I can. Thanks for letting me know and DO keep up the good work which is a beautiful service to our country. Blessings, a teacher who still loves you. FF

  6. Alan Bourie

    November 22, 2013 at 9:11 PM

    Thanks John, the documentary was very informative and well done.

  7. Christy Hawrylak Evans

    November 22, 2013 at 9:45 AM

    Thank you John for putting this documentary together. One memory I have is when the band played ‘Everything’s Coming Up Roses” as Jackie entered the hall with that rose colored suit. It was a tune the band know from memory as it was part of the half time show tunes. When I think of that day I smile and cry at the same time as I am sure so many of us do when we think back to viewing our President and First Lady as you said “in color” then arriving back at school to learn and hear the unbelievable. Christy

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