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50 Years Ago JFK's Funeral Enthralls the Nation


Americans gathered around television sets on this day 50 years ago, to say farewell to President John F. Kennedy.

The President had lain in repose – that is, in private -- in the East Room of the White House that Saturday, then taken to the Capitol on Sunday to lie in state in the Rotunda.

Washington police later estimated 400 thousand people filed past JFK’s guarded coffin before it was removed for the funeral early that Monday. The President was moved from the Capitol by a horse-drawn caisson, through the streets of Washington, to St. Matthew's Cathedral for the requiem Mass.

Representatives from over 90 countries attended John F. Kennedy’s state funeral – including British Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Hume; French President Charles De Gaulle, Soviet First Deputy Premier Anastas Mikoyan, and Ethiopia’s Haile Selassie.  

Following the Mass, the funeral procession began its trek to Arlington National Cemetery – as the coffin was placed onto the caisson, the President’s son provided one of the iconic images in American history -- saluting his fallen father.

At Arlington, cameras were trained on Kennedy’s gravesite for the final act of the four-day tragedy. The President was buried after the blessing of the grave, a 21-gun salute and Taps.