Remembering the 50th anniversary of JFK's funeral

Nov. 25, 2013 at 1:45 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- A million people lined the streets Nov. 25, 1963, and millions more were glued to TVs as the United States paid final respects to President John F. Kennedy.

Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia three days after he was killed by an assassin's bullet in Dallas.

His body was taken to the White House the morning after the assassination. The closed coffin was placed in the East Room, where Kennedy laid in repose until Sunday morning when the caisson bearing the president's coffin departed in a procession to the U.S. Capitol.

In the Capitol rotunda, the casket was placed on the catafalque constructed to hold President Abraham Lincoln's casket in 1865, the John F. Kennedy Library said.

On Monday, the doors to the Capitol rotunda were closed to the public at 9 a.m. The JFK Library said some 250,000 people had viewed the casket.

At 10:59 a.m., the caisson left Capitol Hill, pausing for several minutes at the White House before proceeding to St. Matthew's Cathedral, with Jacqueline Kennedy, members of the Kennedy family and dignitaries joinng the procession on foot.

In the funeral procession, a riderless horse -- a black gelding with an empty saddle, saber, and boots reversed in the stirrups, followed the caisson bearing Kennedy's coffin.

The coffin was taken into the cathedral at 12:14 p.m. for the state funeral, which was attended by dignitaries from 92 countries, including President Charles de Gaulle of France, Chancellor Ludwig Erhard of the Federal Republic of Germany, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and Britain's Prince Philip.

After the service, the family paused on the cathedral steps, where Kennedy's son John F. Kennedy Jr., who had turned 3 that day, saluted his father as the coffin went past.

At 1:30 p.m., the funeral procession departed for Arlington National Cemetery. It arrived at the cemetery at 2:54 p.m. Fifty Navy and Air Force jets flew past a short time later, followed by Air Force One, which dipped its wing in tribute, Arlington National Cemetery's historical information indicated.

A contingent of the Irish Guard stood opposite the grave as Boston's Cardinal Richard Cushing performed a Roman Catholic committal service. Taps was played and the U.S. flag draped over Kennedy's casket was folded and handed to his wife, who joined her brother-in-law, Robert Kennedy, in lighting the eternal flame.

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