JFK (2)

The John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame

There are a number of  gravesites of famous people in the D.C. area, but perhaps none more iconic than that of President John F. Kennedy.  President Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was assassinated at the age of 46 during a trip to Dallas, Texas, in 1963.  He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, which is located in Virginia (MAP), directly across the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial.  It has now been over 50 years since President Kennedy was killed, and on a recent bike ride I visited his gravesite and memorial.

The John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame is a Presidential memorial at the gravesite of President Kennedy.  The eternal flame was lighted by Mrs. Kennedy during her husband’s funeral, and burns from the center of a five-foot circular flat-granite stone at the head of the grave.  The fuel is natural gas and is mixed with a controlled quantity of air to achieve the color and shape of the flame.  The burner is a specially designed apparatus, containing a constantly flashing electric spark near the tip of the nozzle that relights the gas should the flame be extinguished by rain, wind or accident.

However, the eternal flame has been extinguished a couple of times by accident.  On December 10, 1963, a group of Catholic schoolchildren were sprinkling the flame with holy water when the cap came off the bottle and water poured onto the flame, putting it out. A cemetery official quickly relit the flame by hand.  Also, in August of 1967, an exceptionally heavy rain extinguished the flame.  A nearby electrical transformer flooded as well, depriving the spark igniter of power and preventing the flame from being relit.  After the rain ended, a cemetery official relit the flame by hand.

On May 23, 1994, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was buried next to President Kennedy. The gravesite was completed with the addition of her grave marker on October 6, 1994.  Two deceased Kennedy children were also reburied with their parents at the gravesite in Arlington, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy from Brookline – who had predeceased President Kennedy by 15 weeks – and an unnamed stillborn daughter from Newport, Rhode Island.

JFK5     JFK4

JFK6     JFK3     JFK2

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s