President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot and killed on November 22, 1963 while on a campaign trip in Dallas Texas. He received a state funeral with a Roman Catholic ceremony performed by the Archbishop of Boston, Richard Cardinal Cushing, at Arlington National Cemetery on November 25, 1963. On Dec. 4, 1963, the two deceased Kennedy children were reburied in Arlington, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy from Brookline — who had predeceased JFK by 15 weeks — and an unnamed stillborn daughter from Newport, R.I. On May 23, 1994, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was buried next to President Kennedy. The gravesite was completed with addition of her grave marker Oct. 6, 1994.
It was originally expected that Kennedy would be buried near Brookline, Massachusetts. However his widow, Jacqueline Kennedy's wishes were stated simply, "He belongs to the people," and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara arranged for a plot on federal property at Arlington National cemetery. Three plots were initially considered: one near the mast of the USS Maine, one at Dewey Circle, and the third on the slope below Arlington House. The president's brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, found the "Maine" location inappropriate and the "Dewey" location inaccessible; however, he believed that the slope below Arlington House was ideal.
The initial plot was 20 feet by 30 feet and was surrounded by a white picket fence. During the first year often more than 3,000 people an hour visited the Kennedy gravesite, and on weekends an estimated 50,000 people visited. Three years after Kennedy's death, more than 16 million people had come to visit the Kennedy plot. Crowds necessitated a more suitable site, and John Warnecke and Associates completed the new site on July 20, 1967. The grave area is paved with irregular stones of Cape Cod granite, which were quarried around 1817 near the site of the president's home and selected by members of his family. Clover, and later, sedum were planted in the crevices to give the appearance of stones lying naturally in a Massachusetts field.
Lighted by Mrs. Kennedy during the funeral, the Eternal Flame burns from the center of a five-foot circular flat-granite stone at the head of the grave. The burner is a specially designed apparatus created by the Institute of Gas Technology of Chicago. A constantly flashing electric spark near the tip of the nozzle relights the gas should the flame be extinguished by rain, wind or accident. The fuel is natural gas and is mixed with a controlled quantity of air to achieve the color and shape of the flame.
John Fitzgerald, also referred to as John F. Kennedy, JFK, John Kennedy or Jack Kennedy, was the 35th President of the United States. In 1960 he became the youngest man ever elected president of the United States. He served from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. The Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the building of the Berlin Wall, the Space Race, the American Civil Rights Movement and early events of the Vietnam War took place during his presidency.
Arlington National Cemetery, a military cemetery directly across the Potomac from Washington, D.c., was established during the Civil War on the grounds of the Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Anna (Custis) Lee, a descendant of Martha Washington. By 1864, the military cemeteries of Washington and Alexandria were filled with Union dead. After Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs quickly selected Arlington as a replacement, in part to prevent the Lee's from ever returning, the government confiscated the land claiming unpaid property taxes. Today, more than 300,000 people, including veterans and military casualties from every one of the nation's wars, are interred in the 624-acre cemetery administered by the Department of the Navy.