November 2023

Page A12 november 2023 FUNERAL HOME & CEMETERY NEWS Section A Perfect for anyone in the funeral business! Black & white Illustration of horse drawn funeral hearse. print size is 17”x11” ~ 515 - 320 - 4479 Only $39.99 Copyright wives, and Cardinal Richard Cushing held a 20-minute consecration of the new grave. The Army Band played the Navy Hymn, the National Anthem and “the Boys of Wexford.” It was Clifford Pollard, who dug the first grave for the President, that now buried the President for a second time. The new grave was completed on July 20, 1967. Stones of Cape Cod granite, quarried about 150 years ago from the vicinity around the President’s summer home, top the graves. A black slate marker with the simple inscription of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1917-1963. Fescu and clover fill around the stones to give a peaceful setting. As improvements went on, an elliptical wall now faces toward the grave with memorable quotations from the late President. The eternal flame had an obvious upgrade to a more permanent status. It has been further upgraded since then. The large Kennedy family had a few other appropriate burials to this area. The tragic assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, a Navy veteran and senator, was buried adjacent to his brother with a simple white cross and flat marker with his name, year of birth and death. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis joined her first husband in 1994. The same black slate marker covers her burial site. In 2009, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, an Army Veteran and senator, joined his brothers, with a white cross, and simple flat marker. The pathway created with Ted Kennedy’s burial allowed a spot to put an upright marble memorial marker for the oldest brother, Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. The elder brother was killed on a dangerous secret mission flying a plane of explosives in World War II. He was awarded the Navy Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and Air Medal. His remains were never recovered. “Be at peace, dear Jack, with your tiny infants by your side until we all meet again above this Hell and beyond the stars, May the Good Lord grant you eternal rest and let perpetual light shine upon you and yours.” –Cardinal Richard Cushing at the reinterment of President Kennedy in 1967 Observations “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.” –President Kennedy’s remarks at Amherst College upon receiving an Honorary Degree, October 26, 1963 Clifford Pollard knew he would have to work this Sunday. He dressed in his khaki overalls and ate the breakfast of bacon and eggs that his wife Hettie had prepared. The phone rang, as he expected. It was his supervisor of gravediggers at Arlington National Cemetery asking him to come in to prepare a grave. “I guess you know why”, his boss said. Pollard did. It was Sunday, November 24, 1963. (Jimmy Breslin told Pollard’s story in the New York Herald Tribune). President Kennedy gave the Veterans Day address in November 1961, where he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Eleven days before his death he returned for Veterans Day, November 11, 1963. In an earlier visit that year, Kennedy stood at the Custis-Lee Mansion (the “Arlington House”) and scanned the view, “So magnificent. I could stay here forever.” As President Kennedy lay in his casket in the East Room of the White House on Saturday, November 23, 1963, the day after the assassination, his funeral was being hurriedly planned. It still amazes many that a funeral of the leader of the free world could be planned and executed in three days. We see current former presidents’ funerals being held weeks following their death. The first thought was to have President Kennedy buried in the family plot in Holyhood Cemetery in Brookline, Massachusetts where his parents and several other relatives would be. Two of his children, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, 2 days old, is buried there and stillborn Arabella is buried in Rhode Island. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara suggested Arlington National Cemetery would be more appropriate for this President. The only other President buried there is William Howard Taft. Jacqueline Kennedy listened and agreed, stating “He belongs to the people.” McNamara and the President’s brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy went to the cemetery on the drizzly Saturday, November 23 and found a suitable spot. Mrs. Kennedy agreed that it was “tranquil, secluded and dignified.” Section 30, Lot 45 was to be prepared for the historic burial. On Sunday, November 24, Mrs. Kennedy decided she wanted to have an eternal flame at the grave. Mrs. Kennedy had visited the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, which is the site of their Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with her husband. The soldier was placed in November 1920 and the official ceremony was held in January 1921. Journalist and poet Gabriel Boissy suggested an eternal flame. It was installed and dedicated on November 11, 1923. The Corps of Army Engineers worked diligently to come By Steven Palmer up with a solution for the next day’s funeral. They installed a propane fed “tiki torch” with a gas line running down the hill to a propane tank 200 feet away. The base of the flame unit and the hose were covered with pine boughs. The engineers duplicated wind and rain scenarios to ensure the flame would not go out. The doors to the Capitol Rotunda closed at 8:25 AM on Monday, November 25, 1963, after the many had viewed the President in his flag draped casket. The procession proceeded to St. Matthews Cathedral for the High Requiem Mass at 12 noon. 1,200 invited guests including nineteen heads of state, and 92 high level representatives from other countries, attended services for the President. Scotland’s Black Watch of the Royal Highland Regiment, that President Kennedy had seen on the South Lawn of the White House on November 13, 1963, were present. The caisson, that had borne the President from the White House to the Capitol to Church and now to Arlington National Cemetery climbed the final hill to his burial site. Cardinal Cushing led the committal prayers. 26-30 Irish Cadets performed The Queen Anne Drill (“the funeral drill”) at the graveside. The volley and rifle salute were given. The playing of Taps was performed by Keith Collar Clark. The flag was folded and presented to Mrs. Kennedy. She then was handed a lighted taper which she bent down and lit the eternal flame. The family and dignitaries were led away, and the casket lowered and covered with the vault lid and the soil was placed on to fill the grave. The question that always comes up is: “Has the eternal flame ever been extinguished?” Unfortunately, for a very few times, it has. Eleven days after Kennedy’s burial, a group of children from a Catholic School were invited to sprinkle Holy Water on the grave. One student went to sprinkle, the top came off the bottle and hit the flame directly, where it went out. A cemetery worker was able to reignite the flame shortly. The flame has had to be extinguished when repairs or upgrades have been made to the flame equipment. The staff is very sensitive to keeping it “an eternal flame.” It was decided that President Kennedy’s grave was not to be his final place of rest. Sixteen million visitors had come to the grave in the first three years. The plot was only 20 by 30 feet with a white picket fence. A better placement for his grave, designs for a fitting memorial were planned. It would be more stable for the flame and for a better memorial setting for the many expected visitors. Architect John Carl Warnecke designed a gravesite that would include the late infant, Patrick Bovier Kennedy and Arabella. March 14,1967, President John F. Kennedy was disinterred from the original spot to a new location, 20 feet away. It began at 6:19 PM and was completed at 9 PM and witnessed by his brothers, Robert and Edward. At 7 AM, in a driving rain, Jacqueline Kennedy, brothers Robert and Edward Kennedy, President Lyndon Johnson, Jean Smith Kennedy, Patricia Kennedy Lawford, Eunice Kennedy Shriver and their husbands and “He Belongs to the People” Steven Palmer entered funeral service in 1971. He is an honors graduate of the New England Institute of Applied Arts & Sciences. He has been licensed on both coasts, he owned the Westcott Funeral Homes of Cottonwood and Camp Verde, AZ, where he remains active in operations. Steve offers his observations on current funeral service issues. He may be reached by mail at PO Box 352, Cottonwood, AZ 86326, by phone at (928)634-9566, by fax at (928)634-5156, by e-mail at or through his website at or on Facebook. FUNERAL HOME & CEMETERY NEWS Monthly Columnsonline at Funeral Service Foundation Raises Record Donations During 2023 NFDA International Convention and Expo Major co-benefactor’s CFS/Tribute Technology’s Charlie Cole welcomes 2023 Golf Classic attendees alongside major cobenefactor Dodge Company’s Tim Collison. New Foundation Trustee Carmalita March-Harris of March Funeral Homes pledges her support for the Todd Van Beck Memorial Scholarship Fund while new Foundation chair Mark Krause helps quiet the crowd during the bidding process. BROOKFIELD, WI— The Funeral Service Foundation has announced that it raised record funds at two of its key events held during the NFDA’s International Convention and Expo in Las Vegas, NV. Held annually, the Foundation’s Golf Classic and Donor Reception help raise funds for scholarships, programs and resources that strengthen funeral service. This year’s Foundation Golf Classic was held September 10 at Top Golf Las Vegas and hosted more than 150 attendees. Thanks to major co-benefactors, Dodge and CFS/Tribute Technology; presenting sponsor Service Corporation International; and more than 60 other key sponsors, the event raised more than $170,000 for the Foundation’s programs and resources. “We are so grateful for the continued support of all of our sponsors, participants and volunteers who continue to make this event such a success,” said John Heald, chair of the fund development committee of the Funeral Continued on page A16