Kennedy flame getting upgrades

Feb. 6, 2013 at 7:11 PM
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ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 6 (UPI) -- A $350,000 contract has been let to upgrade the eternal flame marking the grave of slain U.S. President John F. Kennedy, the Army Corps of Engineers says.

Meltech Corp. of Landover, Md., was awarded the contract Jan. 31 and is to begin the work at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia this month, the Corps said Tuesday in a release on its website. The project is expected to be completed within three months.

"The current flame, which was installed 1967, is experiencing malfunctions," said Kathryn A. Condon, executive director for Arlington National Cemetery. "This repair will ensure that the eternal flame remains the iconic symbol for all who come to visit this national treasure for generations to come."

The updates will include automated controls and a more energy-efficient system.

"The contractor will run new electrical conduit and cable, as well as new gas lines, relocate gas pressure regulators from inside to outside the vault to provide easier maintenance and access, and fabricate new burner assemblies that are naturally aspirated to reduce maintenance and utility costs," said Suzanne Spence, the Corps' project manager overseeing the project.

A temporary flame will be installed while the burner is replaced. It will be the second time a temporary flame has been used, the first being Nov. 25, 1963, as Kennedy was laid to rest at Arlington following his assassination in Dallas. A modified propane fueled tiki torch was used until the permanent flame was installed.

No changes are being made to the grave site itself.

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