Friday, July 3, 2009

Army Drum Used in President John F. Kennedy's Funeral

Americans old enough to remember November 1963, and the horror of the assassination of President Kennedy, no doubt recall the relentless cadence sounded by MSG Vincent Battista, on this drum, as they watched the funeral procession make its way to Arlington Cemetery on national television. Part of the Army National Collection, the instrument is of eighteenth century rope-tension pattern, made of traditional materials for the Army Band by the famed craftsman, the late Charles Soistman of Baltimore. The black crepe, exposing the hand-painted national arms on the shell, is part of the ritual associated with military funerals. The drum is currently [as of June 2009] on loan to the Smithsonian Institution for an exhibit. U.S. Army, Center of Military History, "Artifact of the Month".

Compare the drum worn by Frederick Fennell and pictured in "Frederick Fennell's Moeller Drum and Terry Cornett's Connection with Fennell", this blog, March 9, 2009.

Close-up on Fennell's Drum

As we observed in that article, note the counterhoop's widening at the sling clip, a design feature most observers would have missed and attributed the uneven hoop width to wear or breakage instead of an intentional beefing up of the hoop at a stress concentration point -- the carry point. In email dated July 23, 2009 from Robert C. Ubaldo to Terry Cornett, Mr. Ubaldo attributes that design feature to Moeller. [Correction made 7/23/09. (The article previously incorrectly attributed that design feature to Ubaldo.)]

And see "Leo J. Brennan's Buck Soistmann Drum (ca. 1964)", this blog, March 7, 2009:


Additional Photos:

Source: Life and Death in the White House

Master Sergeant Vincent Battista, a member of the United States Army Band, "Pershing's Own," at Fort Myer, Virginia, was one of the drummers in President Kennedy's funeral procession. Source: Life and Death in the White House

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