If girlfriend were approximately for the assassination of chairman Kennedy, and especially if you were a 9-year-old kid, girlfriend may uncover conflicting feelings around the 50th anniversary.

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First of all, the course, it’s a reminder the you’re old. Specifying moments constantly seem like yesterday, however the assassination is together long ago now together the election of Woodrow Wilson was earlier then.

There’ll it is in plenty of overwritten news stories around the assassination ending our innocence and also all, however we recognize now the we together a nation didn’t really have any kind of innocence to lose.

Over time, the assassination has actually lost some of its significance. That appeared clear, at least to me today, when this take it place.


The “eternal flame” in ~ Kennedy’s grave site at Arlington nationwide Cemetery was lit again after some infrastructure work on the fuel lines at the grave website were completed. The flame had been save on computer in a short-term container.

Nothing versus Secretary of the military John McHugh, who did the honors, however there was a time once Kennedy dig ceremonies and moments to be too large for the likes of a only secretary that the Army.

But it makes sense, due to the fact that an military engineer is responsible because that it. There had never to be anything favor an eternal flame in the cemetery before and also the guy who come up with the system for it — Col. Clayton Lyle — had actually less than a day to develop it in ~ the inquiry of Mrs. Kennedy.

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There was no time to very closely design and also plan such a device. He and also his staff had actually to make do from scratch. Scrounging Washington’s electrical shops, they uncovered a “luau lamp” generally used come illuminate garden parties. They tested it by dousing it v water, blasting it through air, and also trying whatever they might think that to kill the flame. It continued to burn.

Meanwhile, Lyle’s crew of officers and men at ft Belvoir, Virginia, do a base because that the desk lamp by welding steel strips into a assistance frame. V the lamp and also its basic a reality, recognize fuel do a problem. It to be a Sunday and propane gas providers were closed. After ~ dozens that telephone calls, personnel at fort Myer, Virginia, i m sorry adjoins Arlington national Cemetery, finally reached a firm that can furnish the propane.

Working approximately the clock, ft Myer officers and also men set a one-inch line down the hillside to deliver gas come the interment site. Thirty hours and a sleepless night after basic Wilson’s call, the job was complete. Currently the only issue of Lyle and also his crew to be whether or not the flame would light when Mrs. Kennedy ignited it in ~ the conclusion that the service.

Colonel Lyle and a other officer stand on the hillside over the grave and also watched.

“We had actually tested exactly how long it take it the gas to gain down the line once it was turned on,” the recalls. “At the best moment, us signaled a guy at the tank to rotate it on. It worked.”

As millions watched ~ above television, Mrs. Kennedy took a burn taper indigenous her armed forces escort. As soon as she touch the lamp, the flame leaped up simply as Lyle had actually hoped, and also believed, that would.

Colonel Lyle has constantly regretted the the eternal flame he designed and also built was necessarily a makeshift task that would need to be changed with a permanent machine later. His initial lasted for much more than a year, however, with just one interruption. The happened about a month ~ the funeral once he gained a phone call from basic Wilson.

“You didn’t check it for one thing—holy water!” his ceo told him.

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It appears that a Catholic college group came to visit the grave. Rather of sprinkling the consecrated water, castle poured it straight on the flame. It went out. Fortunately, among the guards in ~ the grave was a smoker. He used his tobacco lighter to acquire it restarted.