John Lennon's enduring memorial in New York City. (Fine Art America)
Few events in history can bring thousands upon thousands of people together for a single cause, but in December 1980, one tragedy silenced the world for 10 minutes straight. That heartbreaking event was the assassination of John Lennon, one of the greatest musicians and songwriters the world had ever seen. As many as 30,000 people assembled in Lennon’s hometown of Liverpool and 225,000 in New York City to mourn Lennon's passing, and across the world, millions held their collective silence to say goodbye to a legend. Here's how one of the last historic global vigils went down.
Thousands gathered to say goodbye to Lennon. (Ultimate Classic Rock)
"A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality."
Undoubtedly, John Lennon was a dreamer, and judging by how his passing affected people all over the world, he wasn't the only one. At 2:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time on December 14, 1980, six days after Lennon was shot and killed, people all over the world fell silent to observe his tragic passing. Even the radio waves went mute for the 10-minute silence, which was planned by Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono.
No one today could bring people together like Lennon. (Mashable)
"What we’ve got to do is keep hope alive, because without it, we'll sink."
Lennon was cremated shortly after his death, which meant that few people got to pay their respects in person. The 10 minutes of silence offered everyone the opportunity, as Ono said, "to participate from wherever you are" in observing the life and legacy of Lennon. The media descended in droves to cover maybe the largest international vigil in modern human history, but despite the hordes of reporters and camera crews, the gatherings did not turn into chaotic circuses. Everyone maintained their respectful appreciation for a man who so many considered an integral part of their lives.
People gathered outside the hotel where Lennon was killed. (Mashable)
"Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears."
If friends count for more than years, Lennon lived much longer than most. In attendance at the massive Central Park vigil was Ed Koch, then-mayor of New York City, as well as Jane Fonda and her husband, Tom Hayden. The throngs of people brought flowers and carried candles as they listened to a recording of a Beatles concert.
All over the world, people gathered to pay their respects to one of the greats. (en.unifrance.org)
"If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace."
The largest gatherings of people occurred in Lennon's hometown, Liverpool, and his adopted home, New York City. However, congregations to say a final farewell to Lennon occurred all over the world at 2:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time that day. From Melbourne, Australia to the red rock amphitheater in the foothills west of Denver, people came together to grieve the untimely passing of one of music's most iconic men.
The Beatles memorial in Liverpool. (Trip Advisor)
"I'm not afraid of death because I don't believe in it. It's just getting out of one car and into another."
In New York City, Lennon's commemoration began with an appropriate song from his extensive catalog, "Give Peace A Chance." The crowd linked arms and raised their hands in gestures of peace as the line "All we are saying is give peace a chance" became a drumbeat. The music then stopped, and the 10 minutes of silence began all over the world.
After the deafening silence ended, the opening swells of "Imagine" began to play, and the crowd triumphantly joined in. It was over as suddenly as it began, and the crowds quickly and quietly dispersed. However, one boy's sign caught the eye of many media members. It read "Can you see how stupid violence is?"