WASHINGTON, Nov. 26, 1963 (UPI) - An "eternal flame" burned at the flower-blanketed grave of John F. Kennedy today in lasting memorial to the assassinated 35th president of the United States.
A white picket fence about two feet high surrounded an area of about five years on each side of the grave in Arlington National Cemetery. Within the enclosure were piled scores of bouquets from other nations.
The grave was filled in, the fence installed and the flowers placed several hours after Kennedy's burial yesterday - a simple sequel to the massive funeral tributes witnessed by national and world leaders.
Military police guarding the grave were alerted to expect a brief visit from Mrs. Kennedy shortly before midnight, officials said. There were reports that the former first lady went to the grave for a second time to add a single sprig of flowers to the floral tributes covering the site, but this could not be confirmed immediately.
Last night, specially installed lights cast a blue hue over the floral blanket while the gas-fed flame ignited by Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy in her husband's memory burned brightly behind. A military guard will be posted at the site around the clock for the next week.
Mrs. Kennedy, who requested the flame as an everlasting symbol of her husband's buoyant spirit, lighted the fire at the conclusion of the impressive graveside services.
Then she passed the torch she had used to her brothers-in-law, Atty. Gen. Robert F. Kennedy and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who ceremonially repeated the process of igniting the memorial flame.
One such light burns at the tomb of France's Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Another burns at Gettysburg, Pa., in memory of Civil War dead.
Kennedy's grave, on a green slope of the military cemetery which serves as a national shrine to the honored dead, dominates a broad vista of Washington. It faces directly across the Potomac River toward the marble-pillared memorial to Abraham Lincoln, assassinated nearly a century ago.
There, in the shadow of the onetime mansion of Robert E. Lee, came the 21-gun salute, the three volleys of musketry by the firing party, and the sound of "Taps."
As Mrs. Kennedy stepped from her limousine, there was a sounding of "Ruffles and Flourishes" followed by the National Anthem.
At that point, the bagpipe unit sounded its dirge and the casket was removed from the caisson and borne to the grave.
As Mrs. Kennedy walked toward the grave she held to the hand of Robert Kennedy. They took their positions before the casket.
Behind them ranged the other mourners.
Early in the services 50 jet fighter planes swept over in a salute to the departed commander-in-chief. They were followed by "Air Force One," the jet transport that carried the president to Callas and brought his body back after he was killed by a sniper Friday.
After a silent ceremonial by Irish Guards flown from Ireland, came the final ceremonies - the blessing of the grave and the prayers.
Behind the grave, on a hill, cannon fired a 21-gun salute and riflemen their three volleys. Taps was sounded by Army Sgt. Keith Clark of Grand Rapids, Mich.
The flag was removed from the casket and handed to the widow.
An overwhelming silence enveloped the throng of great and simple people who came to see Kennedy laid to rest after the last rites of a funeral mass that broke the composure of his grieving widow.
Daughter Caroline, who will be 6 years old tomorrow, also broke down in sobs after reacting as bravely as her mother to their tragedy. There was added poignance when John Kennedy Jr., attending the funeral on his own third birthday, stood at the cathedral steps and saluted his father's coffin just as the soldiers all around were doing.
Washington's streets were lined with an estimated 800,000 hushed mourners who paid their respects as the slain president was brought from the Capitol to the White House, from there to St. Matthews Cathedral, and then to the cemetery.
It was a solemn military procession, with the coffin on a black-draped caisson drawn by six gray horses. From the White House to the cathedral, six blocks, the widow and her husband's two brothers walked behind the caisson, followed by President Johnson and a huge assemblage of foreign leaders.
There were kings, presidents, ministers and princes from nearly every country of the world, communist as well as free, from President Charles de Gaulle of France to Deputy Premier Anastas Mikoyan of the Soviet Union. Red China and Cuba were not represented.
Standing beside the sorrowing family at the sunny but chilly site, they heard the funeral silence pierced by the bagpipers and the jet airplanes, by the cannon and the prayers.
Men who have made history watched from the sidelines. De Gaulle clasped and unclasped his hands. Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia wiped his eyes. The French president and the bearded Ethiopian monarch, both in uniform, stood side by side, flanked by dozens of other world leaders.
Lyndon B. Johnson, who became president of the United States about an hour and a half after Kennedy died, was almost concealed in the crowd until the time came for Taps to be sounded. Then he stepped forward, hatless, and stood facing the grave with his right hand over his heard in silent salute.
Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston, who had celebrated the funeral mass, also officiated at graveside. The cardinal, who had married the Kennedys 10 years ago and baptized their children, intoned in sonorous tones:
"Let his sould and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace ..."
At the mass, the Most Rev. Philip Hannan, auxiliary bishop of Washington, read from the fallen president's inaugural address and from his favorite biblical passages. This was the closest approach to a eulogy in the funeral service.
Former Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Harry S Truman were there, Eisenhower with his wife Mamie, and Truman with his daughter Margaret. The two former presidents conferred privately for a half hour after the services.