JFK Funeral Newsreel

JFK Funeral Newsreel

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JFK Jr.'s heartbreaking salute to his father's coffin

President John F. Kennedy’s state funeral took place in Washington, D.C. on November 25, 1963, three days after his assassination in Dallas.

As the casket left St Matthew’s Cathedral, three-year-old John F Kennedy Jr, raised his tiny hand in salute to his father. The heartbreaking moment was captured by two photographers that day.

John F Kennedy Jr, or John John as he was called, turned three the same day as his father’s funeral. That morning “Happy Birthday” was sung to him and he was given a toy helicopter as a present from his sister Caroline. He then had to go outside in front of the entire world and attend his father’s funeral.

According to Steven M. Gillon’s 2019 book, "America’s Reluctant Prince: The Life of John F. Kennedy Jr.," after the children were told the news about their father, the little boy continued to ask the people around him to take him to see his dad.

Jackie Kennedy with John and Caroline at the White House on November 24, 1963. Credit: National Archive/Newsmakers/Getty Images

Before the funeral, Jackie had asked the children to write notes to place in their father’s coffin. While Caroline was able to write her feelings down, John only managed to scrawl an X, Scribol.com reports.

At St. Matthew’s cathedral for the funeral Mass, John began to cry and was taken to another room to calm down. There, the Secret Service agent asked him to perfect his salute. Young John first had trouble with the gesture, but when a Marine colonel took over the lesson, John was able to get it right.

After the Mass, the funeral cars began making their way to Arlington National Cemetery for the interment. The children were thought to young to see that part of the ceremony, but before they left their mother for the day, photographers captured John and Caroline standing outside the cathedral watching their father’s coffin go by.

United Press International (UPI) photographer Stan Stearns captured John’s salute. He was so excited about the photo that he skipped the rest of the funeral and headed straight back to his office.

In 2007, Stearns wrote about his experiences for the website The Downhold Project.

“I made a decision to walk the film into the bureau, feeling I had the picture of the funeral,” he wrote. “I was supposed to walk with the caisson to Arlington. I knew we had photographers along the way and at least four at the cemetery. They could do without me.

Jacqueline Kennedy, Edward Kennedy and Robert Kennedy stand as the coffin of President John F. Kennedy passes. Credit: Keystone/Getty Images

“When I walked in the office, George Gaylin [the Washington News Pictures Manager] almost had a heart attack. I have never seen a man that mad. He turned red, then white. Yelling and screaming that I did not go to Arlington. I kept telling him I had THE PICTURE of the funeral.

“He was yelling that he had rolls and rolls of film from ump-teen photographers covering the funeral,” Stearns wrote.

“While Harold Blumenfeld [Executive Editor for News Pictures] and Ted Majeski [Managing Editor for News Pictures] were trying to calm him down, Frank Tremaine [Vice President, General Manager for News Pictures] grabbed me by the collar and said: ‘You better have the picture of the funeral or you’re fired.’”

Stearns continued: “Knowing it was going to be a big enlargement, and knowing my job was on the line, I went into the darkroom with fine grain developer to develop the film. Unheard of at UPI. It took 17 min. I could hear Gaylin pacing outside the door muttering. When the negative was washed and dried, I went to Gaylin’s desk.

“[Gaylin] looked at it and yelled, ‘He does have the picture of the funeral!’ He quickly showed it to Ted Majeski and Harry Blumenfield on his way to have it enlarged and printed. The rest is history.”

Stearns added: “When the photo was transmitted, the credit was UPI/by Stan Stearns. Back then, that was almost unheard of. Reporters got a byline, photographers got zip. The photo was used world-wide. Full page in some newspapers and magazines.”

However… “Life [magazine] used it with no credit. I called the Life picture editor about the credit. He said [he] would correct it in the future… Well, in 1999 when JFK Jr. died, he [the picture editor] either had moved on or no one looked at the credit… The credit was Corbis-Bettman on the cover of Life and Time [magazines],” said Stearns, who passed away in 2012, at the age of 76.

According to The Downhold Project website: “Other photographers, including New York’s Daily News did have the image, but they didn’t have what Stearns’ picture had. He used an ultra-fine grain developer that allowed more enlargement of the negative with less graininess. And he had a tiny highlight of sunlight under young John’s left eye.”

John F. Kennedy Jr and his wife Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. Credit: Getty Images

The photographer of the second image was Dan Farrell. His image made it to the front page of the Daily News under the headline “We Carry On.”

In 2013, he told CNN: “His hand just went up very very quickly, and I got off one shot, and it was all over… I realized it was going to happen because Mrs Kennedy actually said to him, ‘Salute, John.’ […] He didn’t salute at first, and she told him again to salute, and he did.”

According to the photographer, the image of young John reaching his hand up to salute his father was “the saddest thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life.”

John F. Kennedy Jr was only 38 when he died on July 16, 1999, along with his wife Carolyn and his sister-in-law Lauren, when the plane he was flying crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

Farrell, who died in 2015, aged 84, said: “The Kennedy picture of the little boy saluting with his family, it’s gonna live forever.”

PHOTOS: 57 years ago, JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald had funerals on same day

Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, but it might not be an obvious fact to many that Oswald and Kennedy actually had their respective funerals on the same day.

Three days after Oswald killed Kennedy and one day after Oswald was shot and killed by Jack Ruby, the two had their funerals on Nov. 25, 1963, although they obviously couldn’t have been more opposite in scale.

While Kennedy had a large funeral procession through Washington, D.C. and a burial at Arlington National Cemetery that drew a nationwide audience on TV and was attended by thousands, family and friends of Oswald gathered for a smaller farewell in Fort Worth, Texas.

Here is a photo collage of both funerals held 57 years ago Wednesday. All photos are from Getty Images.

'The picture of the funeral': JFK Jr. salutes his father's casket

Nov. 25, WASHINGTON (UPI) -- UPI photographer Stan Stearns was among 70 photographers jammed into a designated area outside the church where President John F. Kennedy's funeral was held following his 1963 assassination.

Of all the photographers present, only Stearns had just the right angle and hit the shutter at just the right moment to capture one of the most memorable photos of the whole Kennedy saga: John F. Kennedy Jr. saluting his father's casket outside St. Matthews Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

The day of the funeral was John Jr.'s third birthday.

Stearns later said he had been zeroed in on the Kennedy family as they left the Cathedral and was somewhat surprised no one else captured the image.

"As the caisson was rolling out to Arlington Cemetery, I asked every photographer I could if they had the salute. Duh! Nobody saw it," Stearns later recalled. "Everyone I talked to had been concentrating on Jackie and the caisson."

Stearns said he was so convinced he had a classic captured on film he skipped the trip to Arlington and hustled back to the darkroom at UPI's Washington bureau, much to the consternation of his bosses.

"The bureau chief almost had a hemorrhage," Stearns told the Annapolis Capital in 2009. "I never saw a man turn as white as he did because I was not with the entourage going to Arlington."

Stan Stearns remembers the day in a letter to The Downhold Project, a website maintained by former UPI staff members:

I was chosen to walk with Jacqueline Kennedy and world leaders from the White House to the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle for President John F. Kennedy's funeral service on November 25, 1963.

When we got there I had to go behind the ropes with the other 70-odd photographers. All squeezed in an area for 30. Wow!

UPI photographer Frank Cancellare squeezed me in next to him. When the service started inside, Cancy and I discussed what to do as a team.

I had the longest lens, a 200-mm. He shot like I was not next to him, and I just watched Jackie. She bent down and whispered in her son's ear. John-John's hand came up to a salute. Click!

One exposure on a roll of 36 exposures.

As the caisson was rolling out to Arlington Cemetery I asked every photographer I could if they had the salute. Duh! Nobody saw it. Everyone I talked to had been concentrating on Jackie and the caisson.

At this point I made a decision to walk the film into the bureau feeling I had the picture of the funeral. I was supposed to walk with the caisson to Arlington. I knew we had photographers along the way and at least four at the cemetery. They could do without me.

When I walked in the office George Gaylin (Washington Newspictures Manager) almost had a heart attack. I have never seen a man that mad. He turned red then white. Yelling and screaming that I did not go to Arlington. I kept telling him I had THE PICTURE of the funeral. He was yelling that he had rolls and rolls of film from ump-teen photographers covering the funeral.

While Harold Blumenfeld (Executive Editor for News Pictures) and Ted Majeski (Managing Editor for News Pictures) were trying to calm him down, Frank Tremaine (Vice President, General Manager for News Pictures) grabbed me by the collar and said: "You better have the picture of the funeral or you're fired."

Knowing it was going to be a big enlargement, and knowing my job was on the line, I went into the darkroom with fine grain developer to develop the film. Unheard of at UPI. It took 17 min. I could hear Gaylin pacing outside the door muttering.

When the negative was washed and dried I went to Gaylin's desk. He looked at it and yelled! "He does have the picture of the funeral." He quickly showed it to Ted Majeski and Harry Blumenfield on his way to have it enlarged and printed. The rest is history. A WORLD BEATER for UPI.

John Kennedy Jr. was 38 when he died with his wife Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy and his sister-in-law Lauren Bessette in a 1999 plane crash.

Today in Media History: Jimmy Breslin’s 1963 JFK column: ‘It’s an Honor’

On November 26, 1963, The New York Herald Tribune published “It’s an Honor,” one of the most memorable newspaper columns of all time.

Jimmy Breslin tells the story of President John Kennedy’s funeral from the perspective of Clifton Pollard, a gravedigger at Arlington National Cemetery.

“Clifton Pollard was pretty sure he was going to be working on Sunday, so when he woke up at 9 a.m., in his three-room apartment on Corcoran Street, he put on khaki overalls before going into the kitchen for breakfast. His wife, Hettie, made bacon and eggs for him. Pollard was in the middle of eating them when he received the phone call he had been expecting. It was from Mazo Kawalchik, who is the foreman of the gravediggers at Arlington National Cemetery, which is where Pollard works for a living. ‘Polly, could you please be here by eleven o’clock this morning?’ Kawalchik asked. ‘I guess you know what it’s for.’ Pollard did. He hung up the phone, finished breakfast, and left his apartment so he could spend Sunday digging a grave for John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

When Pollard got to the row of yellow wooden garages where the cemetery equipment is stored, Kawalchik and John Metzler, the cemetery superintendent, were waiting for him. ‘Sorry to pull you out like this on a Sunday,’ Metzler said. ‘Oh, don’t say that,’ Pollard said. ‘Why, it’s an honor for me to be here.’ Pollard got behind the wheel of a machine called a reverse hoe. Gravedigging is not done with men and shovels at Arlington. The reverse hoe is a green machine with a yellow bucket that scoops the earth toward the operator, not away from it as a crane does. At the bottom of the hill in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Pollard started the digging….”

In this newsreel report, we see a more straightforward perspective of the event.

“Breslin approaches the burial of John Fitzgerald Kennedy from the perspective of his grave digger. It’s a plainly told story — no breathtaking sentences here — but the style is effective in its Hemingway-esque directness. Breslin moves from the gravedigger’s perspective, to a more omniscient view of the funeral, back to the worker. We like the passage about Jackie Kennedy, its moving description of her particular, telling gestures. But the piece’s central power lies in Breslin’s juxtaposition of the cemetery workers, the small details of the scene’s sounds and sights, with the enormity of the event.”

— “Digging JFK Grave Was His Honor“
Nieman Storyboard

JFK Funeral Newsreel - HISTORY

Assigned a role in history
Press Enterprise Writer

BLOOMSBURG — When Richard Gaudreau walked into the information center at Arlington National Cemetery during a visit last year, he looked up and saw his own face.

There on the wall was a gigantic mural depicting the military honor guards who bore the casket of slain President John F. Kennedy. Gaudreau had been one of them.

Gaudreau, 67, Wonderview, said he's gotten used to seeing himself on television, in glossy magazine photos and black-and-white news clippings. He's got a stack of them himself, showing the funeral services for the young president who was killed 40 years ago today.

But the mural was a shock. He hadn't been back to Arlington in all these years.

Gaudreau was a 27-year-old Air Force staff sergeant when he found himself pulled into the historic events unfolding after Kennedy was killed in 1963. He was one of eight men who became pallbearers for the president. Gaudreau, who is now graying at the temples, said it's sometimes hard for him to believe he was really part of it all.

His call to duty was a fluke, he said.

"When I reflect back on it, it was being in the right place at the right time," he said.

Gaudreau joined the U.S. Air Force in June of 1954, just days after graduating high school. His father had taken him to the Massachusetts steel factory where he worked. One look was enough to steer him onto a different career path.

"I thought, there's no way I'm going to do this the rest of my life," he said.

After serving a tour in Europe, Gaudreau returned to an Air Force base in Washington where he was given the choice of joining the base police or the honor guard. He opted for the steady work week of an honor guard. That was 1958.

"It seemed like a better work assignment," he said.

He was in an office on the base on Nov. 22 when he heard the radio bulletin that Kennedy had been shot.

"It was a little while later we heard he had died," Gaudreau said.

His boss told him to get together a team of men and head to Andrews Air Force Base, where Kennedy's body was being flown. The other branches of the military had also sent honor guards.

While waiting for the plane, an Army lieutenant walked up to his group and asked who was in charge. When Gaudreau stepped forward, the officer said: "Let's go."

"And that's how I ended up in it," he said.

It turned out the lieutenant was forming a joint-military honor guard, representing each branch of the service for Kennedy's funeral services. But Gaudreau didn't have time to think about that or Kennedy's death, which had left the country in shock and mourning.

"The one thought going through your mind is you're the only Air Force guy on this team — please don't mess it up."

When Air Force One landed that Friday night, Gaudreau helped the Secret Service take the casket off the plane with Jackie Kennedy in her blood-stained pink dress and the president's brother Bobby only a few feet away. The moment was captured in a now famous Life Magazine photo.

He went with the casket to Bethesda Naval Hospital, where the autopsy was performed.

"I remember the pinstriped suit, white shirt and tie" carried in for the president, Gaudreau said.

Around 4:30 a.m. Saturday, the pallbearers carried the casket into the East Room of the White House, where Gaudreau and the others stood stonefaced while the family received visitors for a private viewing.

"We'd been up since 6 o'clock Friday morning, and we were going on 24 hours without stopping," Gaudreau recalled.

He said the bronze casket chosen for Kennedy weighed more than 800 pounds. Two additional men had to be added to the original six to manage it.

"We struggled carrying the thing because it was so heavy," he said.

The men got their first break when the military death watch took over for the evening, he said.

Later that day, they began practicing in earnest for the funeral services on Sunday and Monday.

Gaudreau said the honor guard was to carry the casket into the Capitol Rotunda where the slain president would lie in state. He and the others were worried about keeping it level as they climbed the 40 steep, narrow steps to the Capitol.

Gaudreau said they went to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which had a similar set of stairs, to practice. Because the casket they were using was too light, they recruited a guard to play the body and provide extra weight.

"It was kind of comical," he said.

But when the time came, the team performed without incident.

The sight and sounds of the crowd and the scent of flowers blanketing Arlington Cemetery are his strongest memories of Kennedy's funeral. The honor guard carried the casket from the Rotunda to the horse-drawn caisson that paraded to St. Matthew's Cathedral.

"I can remember the mass of people lining the streets," Gaudreau said. "You could hear them talking and crying out."

The Arlington "hillside was just covered with flowers, and you could smell them," he said.

Gaudreau said the honor guard's last duty was attending at the burial. Traditionally, they leave after the flag draping the casket is folded. But there were so many people, they couldn't leave.

"We stood there, and stood there and stood there," he said. "The lieutenant was waiting for all these people to leave. It seemed like it would never end."

Gaudreau said lot of things go through your mind when you're standing honor guard, especially the need to keep your toes wiggling so your legs won't get numb and cause you to collapse.

Mostly, you focus on the job at hand, he said.

"You think I'm going to do this duty," he said. "This is the shield you put on over yourself."

In the years that followed, Gaudreau said he's seen television clips and newspaper photos of himself during the funeral. He also has his collection of military photos. With the 40th anniversary of Kennedy's death, he's seen his younger self again bearing the weight of the president's casket.

"I've seen it a thousand times, and I'll see it another thousand times," he said.

Gaudreau, who retired from the military in 1979, said the passage of time hasn't diminished that moment in history for those who lived through it.

"It's still as big as it was because of all the mystique that goes with it," he said.

Gaudreau said people then knew that other presidents had been assassinated. But they couldn't imagine such a thing happening in 1963.

"For this country, this was a tragedy to have this president taken away from the people," he said.

State Funeral of President Kennedy: Procession to St. Matthew’s Cathedral

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History and Mystery Surround JFK Hearse

Nov. 22, 1963, is a day that will live on forever as one of tragedy in Dallas, Texas. It was around straight-up noon when the presidential motorcade was making its way to the Dallas Trade Mart where John F. Kennedy was to deliver an address to those assembled for a luncheon. As the big dark-blue Lincoln parade car turned off of North Houston Street and onto Elm heading for the Stemmons Freeway, several shots rang out, and in a few seconds, Camelot was dead.

Over the years, there has been much written and fielded about the assassination of the president, some starting almost before the echoes of those shots had vanished. However, what happened in the next two hours has been well recorded, and this is where our story begins. At a recent sale conducted by the World Wide Group in Houston, Texas, a 1964 Cadillac Miller-Meteor combination car, one of the most historically significant funeral coaches in the world, went on the auction block.

Finished in its original Cotillion White and looking just as it did back in November of 1963, this 1964 Cadillac Miller-Meteor combination car still bears the same license plate it wore when transporting President Kennedy&aposs body back to Air Force One.

Despite a bid of $900,000, it was a no sale. However, during its preview, I was honored to meet the man who was representing this unique vehicle, one who had been in Dallas on the fateful day and in a position to witness some of the very pivotal events of that afternoon.

Donald McElroy was, at the time, a 24-year-old young man who had been employed by the O&aposNeil Funeral Home since 1959. He had been trained in mortuary skills and had been employed in all aspects of the industry.

Back in the early 1960s, as was common in many parts of the country, local funeral homes also operated the area&aposs ambulance service. McElroy worked in both the funeral side of the business and, when necessary, also drove an ambulance.

Donald McElroy has been in the funeral business in the Dallas area since 1959, and was, in a small role, a part of history on Nov. 22, 1963.

O&aposNeil was one of the most reputable companies in Dallas, and as a result of their reputation, they had earned ambulance contracts for both the county and city of Dallas. Their fleet consisted of about a dozen units, including several Cadillacs, a few Pontiacs and for body removal, or "first-call" duties, even a couple of Ford station wagons converted for the needed tasks.

"I had been assigned to one of the ambulance crews on that day," McElroy recalled, "we were originally assigned to standby along the motorcade route in case of an emergency or medical aid was needed. Around 11 a.m., our unit got a call, and we left the area, picked up the patient and transported them to the emergency room at Parkland Hospital. After we dropped off the patient, we stayed around the hospital preparing the ambulance for another call, when all of a sudden the police radio in our unit came alive.

"We could hear quite a few excited voices, and word came that the president was heading towards Parkland hospital," McElroy remembered. "It seemed like just a few moments later that we could hear sirens approaching as the big Lincoln swung into view with what first looked like a heap of people in the back."

Within a couple of minutes, a flurry of activity took place right in front of McElroy&aposs eyes. History, in all its gruesome details, was unfolding.

"The president&aposs car came roaring into the ambulance bay, and Secret Service agents were shouting and screaming for stretchers." McElroy recounted, "The staff was somewhat stunned by all the excitement and a little too slow to react, so one agent grabbed two stretchers. I watched as another agent placed his jacket over the president&aposs head and chest as they took Kennedy out of the car and placed him on a stretcher some were trying to hold his head still. Mrs. Kennedy was helped out of the car, and the second stretcher was brought up for Governor Connelly."

In just a matter of moments, the activity moved inside, with the president rolled into the hospital followed by many of the agents. McElroy contacted his dispatcher and was told to hold his position at the hospital. During this time, he watched as some of the agents came out of the hospital and started to put the top on the presidential car. He couldn&apost remember the exact sequence of events, but the big Lincoln was driven away from the hospital entrance shortly after the top was raised.

Within a few minutes, it was clear the shots to Kennedy had been fatal, and Secret Service agents turned to hospital administrators and asked for the location of the nearest funeral home, which happened to be O&aposNeil. A call was placed to the home, and they ordered the most expensive casket and the best funeral coach in the fleet to be brought to the hospital.

Soon, a heavy bronze casket &apos weighing several hundred pounds &apos was placed in the back of the then brand-new 1964 Miller-Meteor combination ambulance/hearse and taken to Parkland Hospital. Staff members of O&aposNeil Funeral Home were not permitted to attend to the preparation of President Kennedy&aposs body, which was taking place as the official announcement of his death was being made around 1:30 that afternoon. Just before 2 p.m., the bier with the casket was rolled out to the gleaming-white Cadillac and loaded into the back.

McElroy had gone over to the waiting hearse and was talking with his fellow employees about what was happening when the Secret Service agents approached them and asked the O&aposNeil employees to help load and secure the casket in the car. McElroy was actually one of the pall-bearers that helped load the president&aposs body into the coach.

"We were told that the car would be driven to Love Field by the Secret Service," McElroy explained. "Mrs. Kennedy said she wanted to ride in the back of the hearse with the casket. Being a combination car, there were two attendant seats by the right rear door. We had to re-adjust the casket, moving it to the left, so we could raise up the seat backs."

This is the interior where President Kennedy&aposs casket was placed for the ride from Parkland Hospital to Air Force One. The two raised attendant seats where were Mrs. Kennedy and a goverment doctor sat.

Air Force One Transmission from November 22, 1963, Part 1

This program contained audio of the transmissions from Air Force One on the day of President Kennedy’s assassination.…

Air Force One Transmission from November 22, 1963, Part 2

This program contains audio of the transmissions from Air Force One on the day of President Kennedy’s assassination.…

President Johnson Speaks to Rose Kennedy

Following President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, President and Mrs. Johnson placed a telephone call and offered…

John F. Kennedy Assassination

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List of dignitaries at the state funeral of John F. Kennedy

This is a list of dignitaries at the state funeral of John F. Kennedy. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, and his state funeral took place on November 25, 1963, in Washington, D.C.

The gathering of dignitaries was considered the largest gathering of foreign statesmen in the history of the United States. [1] [2] It was also the largest gathering of foreign dignitaries at a state funeral since that of King Edward VII in London in 1910. [1] [3] [4] Although the state funerals of Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1969 and Ronald Reagan in 2004 had large gatherings of foreign dignitaries, the funeral of Kennedy was the largest gathering of foreign dignitaries at any funeral in the United States, [1] [5] [6] drawing 220 foreign dignitaries from 92 foreign nations, [7] including 19 heads of state and government. [8] [9] Eisenhower's drew 191 from 78 nations, [5] while Reagan's drew 218 from 165 nations. [6]

Watch the video: Pohřební obřady za pani Taťanu Živnou


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