LITTLE SOLDIER JOHN-JOHN SALUTED JFK
Below is the story of birthday-boy John-John's famous salute to his father outside St Matthew's Cathedral after JFK's funeral mass on Monday, November 25th, 1963.
At pertinent passages I've inserted photos taken from various books* and magazines -- including the photo above of JFK and "First Friend" Dave Powers leaving that very church -- a half-mile from the White House -- during the week of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. Almost exactly one year later -- on almost exactly that same spot -- John-John stood saluting his father's coffin.
All the best,
Jackie Jura, November 2012
A LITTLE SOLDIER'S SALUTE
by Robert M Andrews, UPI Correspondent
Washington, DC, November 25, 1963
(from Four Days: The Historical Record of The Death of President Kennedy, by UPI)
A little boy at his grieving mother's side saluted the passing casket.
And in that moment, he suddenly became the brave soldier his father would have wanted him to be on this day, of all days.
For today, John F. Kennedy, Jr., turned three.
His world was strangely different, in little ways a child notices but does not understand.
Where was his daddy? The tall man with the laughing blue eyes who had a big desk and saw lots of important people and stooped to spank him good-naturedly and took him on helicopter rides and called him "John-John".
This was supposed to be the day of The Party. The cake with three candles to blow out, the friends singing boisterous "Happy Birthdays", the gifts.
But home, the White House, was quiet. Some of the furniture was gone. And the soldiers outside, whose salutes he delighted in trying to return with one of his own, looked different. They didn't glance down at him and sneak a wink or a smile today. Their commands barked, their rifles clattered.
Secret Service agents came and led John-John and his sister out to the north portico. Mrs. Kennedy, dressed all in black, met them at the door and took them to a limousine. Then she walked back up in line with their uncles, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and Senator Edward Kennedy, and the slow, sad march to church began.
President and Mrs. Johnson and a host of aides and security agents followed Mrs Kennedy on foot. John-John and Caroline rode in the car behind them.
A half-mile later, in front of St Matthew's Cathedral, the parade stopped. John-John and Caroline were brought around to join their mother.
The little boy looked around bewildered and started crying. His mother spoke to him softly, and he stopped.
They walked up the steps of the cathedral, and there waiting was Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston. John-John seemed awed by the tall, craggy-faced man towering above him, wearing a white, two-pointed miter and black vestments.
Mrs Kennedy, holding each of her children by the hand, walked in and down the aisle to their seats.
John-John grew restless during the mass. Someone picked a small book -- The Church Today-Growth or Decline -- from the literature rack at the rear of the cathedral and gave it to the boy to occupy him. He still clasped it in his hand when he left the church with his mother and sister.
They stood waiting at the bottom of the steps. Pallbearers appeared at the door with the flag-draped casket, and as it came slowly down toward them, Mrs Kennedy leaned down and whispered to her son.
He stood apart, straightened stiffly, and raised his hand in salute as the casket passed.
~ end quoting from A Little Soldier's Salute ~
DEDICATED TO PRESIDENT KENNEDY
LITTLE SOLDIER JOHN-JOHN SALUTED JFK
The people pay homage to JFK
Air Force One flying home carrying JFK body
JFK assassinated in Dallas 49 years ago
(the day the world stood still)
JFK'S ASSASSINATION PREMONITION
DEALEY PLAZA DEALEY HATED JFK
DALLAS HATE-JFK DEALEY AD
November 22-25, 1963-2012
watch PRESIDENT KENNEDY'S FUNERAL SERVICE, YouTube (videotape and film footage from November 23-25 1963, covering the funeral service for assassinated President Kennedy, including coverage of the processions to the Capitol Rotunda, the White House, Saint Matthews Roman Catholic Cathedral in Washington, DC, and JFK's burial site at Arlington National Cemetary)
watch FOUR DAYS IN NOVEMBER, YouTube ("Four Days In November" debuted in American movie theaters on Saturday, November 21, 1964, which was just one day shy of the first anniversary of JFK's assassination. "Four Days In November", a black-and-white film directed by Mel Stuart and narrated by actor Richard Basehart is an expertly edited chronological documentary which guides the viewer through all four of those dark November days that shocked the nation and the world in late 1963. Four Days" received a significant amount of attention and was, in fact, nominated for an Academy Award for "Best Documentary Feature" of 1964....)
The president impulsively decided to take his son along to Arlington National Cemetery for his speech and wreath-laying on Veteran's Day, November 11, 1963. During the Arlington ceremony the President became concerned that his son would become fidgety and asked that he be brought to him as the event broke up. John boldly marched up to his father, his hands behind his back, oblivious of the adoring crowds behind rope lines. Both laughed, and John clasped his father's legs in affection. He further amused the president by walking backward, with his hands behind his back, impersonating his father who was attempting to remain somber. The president and one of his military aides then took the boy by the hands and swung him over the steps as he let out childish yelps of glee. As they were leaving the cemetary, the president told Congressman Hale Boggs something he had said the previous spring after a visit there: "This is one of the really beautiful places on earth. I could stay here forever." He echoed this to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara: "This is one of the really beautiful places on earth. I think, maybe, someday this is where I'd like to be."
watch JFK & John-John at Arlington Cemetary on November 11, 1963, Veteran's Day
He snaped the picture that captured a nation's profound sense of loss, Photographer Stan Stearns dies, age 76
"The hand went up. Click -- one exposure", the photographer later said. "That was it. That was the picture."
Photographer who made famous JFK funeral image dies, Annapolis Capital Gazette, Mar 3, 2012
Annapolis native and photographer Stan Stearns, who took the iconic photograph of John F. Kennedy Jr. saluting his father’s caisson-borne casket Nov. 25, 1963, died early Friday morning from lung cancer. He was 76 years old. Stearns, who started his photography career at this newspaper, was working for United Press International on the day of President John F. Kennedy’s funeral, three days after the young president was assassinated in Dallas. He was assigned to follow the president’s widow and an entourage of world leaders as they made their way from the White House to St. Matthew’s Cathedral for the funeral service. Herded behind a cordon with scores of other photographers across the street from the church he concentrated on Mrs. Kennedy. He saw her lean over and say something to her son. A second later John-John stepped forward and saluted his father. It was his third birthday. Stearns raised his camera and snapped the photo felt around the world. Stearns learned from the press gaggle he was the only one to get the photo of the salute and rushed back to UPI’s office convinced he had the shot of the day. He was right. The photo remains one of the most searing images of post-war America and to this day can evoke emotions of that dark weekend in those who experienced it nearly 50 years ago. Filmed television coverage also caught the moment but for many worldwide it was Stearns’ still image that captured the moment for history. In 2007 a controversy erupted after an obituary for another photographer, Joe O’Donnell, mentioned he, not Stearns, had taken the famous shot. Apparently O’Donnell had made the claim. Photographers scrambled to Stearns’ side to prove he had taken the photo....
Stearns’ house was full of the great photographs of world leaders and others. Presidents Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, and of course the most famous one of JFK Jr. Stan Stearns was born in Annapolis on May 11, 1935, son of William and Lillian Stearns. He attended local schools and graduated from Annapolis High School in 1954. Though he had no formal photographic training he acquired talent early. At age 14 he won a prize from the Annapolis Camera Club for a photo he took at the Franciscan Monastery in Washington. When he was 16 Stearns kicked off his career with a job at this newspaper, then The Evening Capital. After a stint as a school photographer for a Texas firm and four years in the U.S. Air Force as a photographer for Stars and Stripes, he came home and kept knocking on the door at the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun trying to land a job. With some help from Annapolis photographer Marion Warren he finally landed at United Press International going to work in Washington at the end of the Eisenhower administration....
Photographer of John F Kennedy Jr’s Salute to Father, Dies at 76, New York Times, Mar 3, 2012
...After snapping the photograph, Mr. Stearns wrote, he ignored orders to go to Arlington National Cemetery and instead walked the film to the U.P.I bureau himself, convinced he had secured the day’s indelible image. A photo manager in the office was furious, his face turning red, then white, Mr. Stearns said. “You better have the picture of the funeral or you’re fired,” he recalled one boss yelling. The photo manager paced outside the door as Mr. Stearns processed the film himself — a 17-minute task, he wrote. Finally, Mr. Stearns showed him the image. “He does have the picture,” the man shouted.
East Rooom, the White House, Washington, DC, November 24, 1963: Jackie, her two children and Bobby attend the private lying-in-state. A private mass was said, and the casket opened for Jackie to place three notes inside, from her and the children, and a scrimshaw and cuff links. Jackie took a lock of her husband's hair.
In Lincoln's footsteps: It was Jackie who took control of the funeral. Despite the ordeal she had been through, she maintained her poise throughout the coming days. With her heightened sense of occasion, she was clearly determined that the crafting of the John F. Kennedy legacy would begin at once, with the eyes of the world focused on Washington. Jackie's first decision was that the funeral should echo that of Abraham Lincoln, who had also fallen to an assassin's bullet, ninety-eight years before. The East Room of the White House was prepared to look as it had when Lincoln's body had lain there, with black crepe over the chandeliers and doorways. Lincoln's original catafalque was found, and Kennedy's casket placed upon it. On Saturday, after a private mass for the family, statesmen came to view the catafalque. The family and media at first assumed that Kennedy would be buried in his home state, at Brookline, Massachusetts, where he had been born. But Jackie thought otherwise. She decided on Arlington Cemetary, the cemetary for veterans from America's armed forces, and visited it...to select the site for the grave. Only one other US president was buried here, William Howard Taft.
watch JOHN F KENNEDY: YEARS OF LIGHTNING, DAYS OF DRUMS: A documentary film made in 1964, shortly after JFK's November 1963 assassination. The 1,037 days of Kennedy's all-too-brief presidency are the focus of this beautifully-made 85-minute color film, which was originally produced by the U.S. Information Agency for release in foreign countries. But the film was so popular, it was finally released in theaters in the United States on April 10, 1966. Also included in the movie is an abundance of rarely-seen color film footage of President Kennedy's funeral processions through the streets of Washington, D.C., on November 24th and 25th, 1963. "Years Of Lightning, Day Of Drums", narrated by actor Gregory Peck, was written and directed by Bruce Herschensohn, who also composed the stellar and poignant original musical score as well. It was practically a one-man Herschensohn show. And a well-crafted show it is, too. George Stevens served as producer.
"It was true that the assassin took careful aim at the president of the United States. It was true, that at the precise moment the assassin waited for, the trigger was pulled. And it was true the president was killed. But it was also true that the assassin missed his target, for he wanted John Kennedy to die and that he was unable to do, for no man could take away years of lightning with a single day of drums...."
Reader Tina's grandfather attended JFK's funeral & she has the tape he filmed
JFK'S LAST FULL DAY IN TEXAS (...At departure on Thursday morning JFK took 3-year-old John-John with them in the helicopter from the White House lawn (6-year-old Caroline was in school) to Andrews Air Force base where he kissed him goodbye and boarded Air Force One (John-John had been crying because he wanted to go too...)
watch JOHN-JOHN BOARDING AIR FORCE ONE
JFK'S PILOT PATRIOT SWINDAL ("...Suddenly, this flight of fighters come across, just screaming jets, with one plane missing from the formation -- that was heart-wrenching. Then Air Force One coming across the same way. "I never saw a plane that size fly so low in my life. And it came over, and dipped its wings, before it took off and gained altitude....")
WHERE IS JFK'S BIBLE?
JFK HARDLY KNEW YE IRISH SIGN (...I am the person who held up the placard "Johnny I hardly knew ye" during JFK's visit to New Ross, Ireland in 1963...I never met Kenny O'Donnell or Dave Powers as they had both passed on before I discovered that they had used the caption from the placard as the title for their book.... I was in Utica, New York working for General Electric on that sad day Friday November 22, 1963 when the tragic news came across the various radios we had playing in the Radio Receiver Design Lab on Broad Street. The place closed early and we all went home devastated. Next morning I was having a haircut in a Polish barber’s shop when I saw TV shots of the old zig-zag bridge in New Ross and Kennedy's visit there. I decided then and there that I would travel the 700 miles south by Greyhound bus to pay my respects at Kennedy's funeral in Washington. It was a sad time but I was glad to have been there to mourn the passing of a great man....)
JFK ASSASSINATION PREMONITION
JFK & ETHIOPIA'S EMPEROR
LINCOLN DREAMS JFK FUNERAL
JFK HAD RENDEZVOUS WITH DEATH
DEDICATED TO PRESIDENT KENNEDY
POEMS FOR JFK & JOHN-JOHN (...On November 22nd, 1963, JFK was assassinated in Dallas, Texas and thirty-six years later John-John disappeared off the face of the earth, allegedly the victim of a plane crash not far from the point where his great-great-grandfather first touched American soil. The poem you're thinking about may be the one Senator Edward Kennedy recited at his nephew John-John's funeral on July 23, 1999, which he said had been sent to JFK and Jackie by the Irish Ambassador shortly after John's birth...)
JACKIE'S TOUR & JFK'S FUNERAL
JULY 16 DARK-DAY EVENTS (...On July 16, 1999, America's prince, John Kennedy Junior, disappeared...)
JFK HOLDING BIBLE
JFK REMEMBRANCE CEREMONY
JFK'S CASTLE WAS CAMELOT
SALINGER TRUE KENNEDY FRIEND (...John F. Kennedy was elected president in early November of 1960. We spent much of our time in Florida, but we spent several days in Washington until Thanksgiving Day, when we took off on the Caroline for the warmer weather in Palm Beach. Jackie Kennedy was expecting her baby the following week and didn't join us. But when I stepped from the plane in Palm Beach, a messenger told me I had an urgent call from Washington waiting on an open line. It was the Georgetown University Hospital and Jackie, who had been rushed there, was giving birth to her child. JFK spoke briefly to the doctor, John Walsh, and then ordered the press plane back to Washington. Halfway there, the radio operator on our American Airlines charter told the president-elect that his son had been born. He then told me to make the announcement to the cheering press. When we arrived in Washington, we went immediately to the hospital and I joined JFK in meeting the new baby, John F. Kennedy Jr. He was four hours old, but he looked wonderful.
Of course, during the time John Jr. and his sister, Caroline, were in the White House, Jackie was always in touch with me to get me to tell the media not to photograph the kids when they were outside the White House. It was not easy to stop them, although I finally did. But JFK had another view. When Jackie was leaving the White House - for example, when she went to Pakistan and India - he was in touch with me and told me that now it was time for the media to get some wonderful pictures of John Jr. and Caroline in his office in the White House. I arranged for Jacques Lowe, who had been hired as the photographer of the Kennedys, to do those photos...)
LBJ SWORE ON JFK'S BIBLE
JFK - THE HOMESTEAD
CAMELOT'S LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY (... Written by Frances Hodgson Burnett, it's the story of an American boy named Cedric whose valiant father dies when the child is just a baby. Though the boy doesn't understand death, he knows that his mother gets sad sometimes, and he would 'put his curly head upon her neck' to lift her spirits. 'He did what he could, and was more of a comfort to her than he could have understood.'...John -- as a boy, as a man -- matched that description of Little Lord Fauntleroy in every way. "He had big brown eyes and long eyelashes...And every month of his life he grew handsomer and more interesting.")
JOHN-JOHN'S BIRTH (...With his total recall of dates, names and places, Dave tells a story about Jackie and Jack in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, in which the date is significant. I remember the incident well, but I cannot swear to the authenticity of the date that Dave ascribes to it. When we arrived in Fort Atkinson, a town noted for manufacturing sausages and musical saws, the wife of the local Lutheran minister was waiting outside the Blackhawk Hotel with her thirteen children, eager to introduce them to the Senator. She had read Profiles in Courage and admired it deeply. Jack shook hands with the beaming mother and each of her children, posed for pictures with them, and then said to me, 'Get Jackie and bring her over here.' I escorted Jackie across the street from the opposite sidewalk where she had been charming a crowd of her own admirers. Jack introduced her to the mother of thirteen children and said to her, 'Shake hands with this lady, Jackie. Maybe it will rub off on you'. Dave pauses dramatically at this point in the story before delivering the punch line. 'That was on February 15, 1960,' he says. 'Nine months later John F. Kennedy, Junior, was born'."...)
ORIGIN OF THE CAMELOT ALLUSION
EAST ROOM MEMORIES JFK FUNERAL
JFK DONATED SALARY TO CHARITY
JFK & CAMELOT
FOCUS ON STAR OF JFK
IT WASN'T MEANT TO HAPPEN
POEM FOR JFK
*photos scanned from books:
- FOUR DAYS: THE HISTORICAL RECORD OF THE DEATH OF PRESIDENT KENNEDY, UPI/American Heritage, 1964
- THE TORCH IS PASSED, The Associated Press Story of the Death of a President, 1964
- THE JOHN F KENNEDYS: A FAMILY ALBUM, Mark Shaw, Personal Photographer, 1964
- THE KENNEDY YEARS, New York Times, Viking Press, 1964
- JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY...AS WE REMEMBER HIM, family/friends/intimate associates, Columbia Records, 1965
- ONE BRIEF SHINING MOMENT: REMEMBERING KENNEDY, William Manchester, 1983
- LIFE IN CAMELOT, Little/Brown/Time Inc, 1988
- JFK REMEMBERED: AN INTIMATE PORTRAIT BY HIS PERSONAL PHOTOGRAPHER, Jacques Lowe, 1993
- JACKIE'S TREASURES: THE FABLED OBJECTS, Dianne Condon, Cader Books, 1996
- THE KENNEDY WHITE HOUSE, Carl Anthony, Touchstone Books, 2002
- JOHN F KENNEDY BIOGRAPHY, Joyce Milton, AE/DK Publishing, 2003
- JFK & JACKIE: UNSEEN ARCHIVES, Tim Hill, Parragon Publishing, 2003
- JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY: A LIFE IN PICTURES, Phaidon Press, 2003
- JACK KENNEDY: THE ILLUSTRATED LIFE OF A PRESIDENT, Chuck Wills, Chronicle Books, 2009
JFK TRUTHS & UNTRUTHS & JFK ASSASSINATION PUZZLE PIECES
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