JFK50GT #2: Love Field
Love Field: the Beginning and the End
Love Field serves as the beginning and the sad end to JFK's
"Day in Dallas." His party arrived in style with great fanfare and a warm
welcome by the Dallas Mayor and nearly the entire city. John and Jackie were
the closest thing this country ever had to royalty. Even the morning storm
clouds seemed to dissipate in anticipation of their arrival. The sun shined and
the flags waved at full staff.
After brief greetings by local dignitaries, President
Kennedy walked right up to, and practically into, the crowd. At times the
well-wishers over the fence seemed to swarm over him from high above the 4'
tall wire fence. This warm accessibility was part of his charm, and ultimately,
part of his downfall.
Just a few short hours later, Kennedy returned to Love Field
in the back of a hearse. His casket was lifted up into Air Force One, as his
newly widowed bride stood by to witness the swearing in of Lyndon B. Johnson
aboard the aircraft. This was the only time a U.S. President took the oath of
office in the state of Texas. During the proceedings Jackie appeared to be in a
state of shock. As new President, LBJ placed a call onboard the aircraft to
John F. Kennedy's mother, Rose Kennedy, and delivered the news. When the plane
reached Washington, D.C., Jackie was met by Robert Kennedy, still wearing her
pink dress and hose, both extensively covered in her husband's blood. Leaving
for the Texas trip, she had originally planned to celebrate her children's
birthdays. John, Jr. and Caroline were having their 3rd and 6th
birthdays over the next 4 days. Instead, Jackie Kennedy spent much of that time
planning for a funeral and planning burial arrangements.
Caroline Kennedy kneels by her father's casket with her
On his 3rd birthday, John Jr. salutes his
father one last time.
The day Kennedy was buried was declared a national day of
mourning. Kennedy was taken from the White House to the Capital, and the
following day to Arlington National Cemetery in the same horse-drawn caisson
used for FDR and the Unknown Soldier. Also on display in these processions was
the riderless horse, Black Jack, with empty boots
placed backwards in the stirrups as is custom for a fallen leader so he can see
his troops one last time.
John F. Kennedy's state funeral lasted for 3 days after his
assassination. After autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital, his flag-draped casket
was brought to the White House where he waited in repose for 24 hours. On
Sunday, a formal procession took the casket out White House Drive and down
Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capital. His casket would lay in state in the
Capital's rotunda, as an estimated 250,000 people filed by his closed casket to
pay their personal respects. Kennedy's last trip, from
the Capital to Arlington National cemetery occurred on Monday, November 25th,
1963. Jackie had planned much of it, and it was must-see TV. A whopping 93% of
the nation tuned in to watch epic visions of the elaborate procession; the
estimated million people who lined the streets of Washington; and the grieving
Kennedy's, including the unforgettable image of John, Jr. saluting as the
procession reached its final leg of the journey. The burial service ended with
Jackie lighting the eternal flame at the head of JFK's gravesite. The idea for
an eternal flame was Jackie's, who is now buried just to the right of her
husband. They are flanked by small headstones and graves for their son Patrick,
who died 2 days after his birth, and Arabella, their daughter who was
Just after 3:30 in the afternoon on November 25th,
"Kennedy slipped out of mortal sight-out of sight but not out of heart and mind."
CO (g) took this photo this past summer on a rainy day, in
Arlington National Cemetery, much like the weather for most of Kennedy's
funeral service. The photo depicts JFK's headstone and his eternal flame, with
the flag always at half-mast. Besides
his wife and their two infants, to Kennedy's left, also at the base of the hill
are headstones and white crosses for his brother, Robert, Joseph, and Edward
On that same rainy day in the summer of 2013, the CO (g)
got this fantastic photo: a perfectly centered rainbow over top of the Changing
of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. John F. Kennedy stood at this very site to
observe Veterans Day exactly 2 weeks before he himself was laid to rest.