Robert F. Kennedy, brother of President John F. Kennedy, former attorney general,
senator and presidential candidate, was shot on June 5, 1968, and died the next
morning. The funeral Mass for Senator Kennedy took place at St. Patrick's Cathedral,
New York City, Saturday, June 8, 1968.
The remains were then transported upon a slow-moving train to Washington, D.C., via
Newark and Trenton, N.J.; Philadelphia, Pa.; and Baltimore, Md. The railway system
stopped all northbound traffic between Washington, D.C., and New York, and many
people gathered along the route to pay tribute to Senator Kennedy.
The long transport delayed the arrival at Union Station until 9:10 p.m., and cemetery
officials quickly changed the funeral plans to accommodate an evening interment.
Floodlights were placed around the open grave and service members provided 1,500
candles which were distributed to the mourners.
The casket was borne from the train by 13 pallbearers, including former astronaut
John Glenn, former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, family friend Gen. Maxwell
Taylor, Robert's eldest son Joe and his brother Senator Edward Kennedy.
The procession stopped once during the drive to Arlington National Cemetery at the
Lincoln Memorial where the Marine Corps Band played "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."
The funeral motorcade arrived at the cemetery at 10:30 p.m.
The brief grave-side service was conducted by Terence Cardinal Cooke, Archbishop
of New York. Afterward the folded flag was presented to Ethel and Joe Kennedy in
behalf of the United States by John Glenn.
In 1971 a more-elaborate grave site was completed, at the request of the Kennedy
family, by architect I.M. Pei (who also designed the East Wing of the National Gallery
of Art). The new grave site retains the simple, white Christian cross of the earlier
site, and adds a granite plaza (like JFK's grave site which adjoins it) and two
inscriptions from Senator Kennedy's most notable addresses:
"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped
each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes
out against injustice he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other
from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current
that can sweep down the mightiest wall of oppression and resistance."
Robert F. Kennedy, South Africa, 1966
"Some men see things as they are and ask 'Why?' I dream things that never were and
ask, 'Why not?'"
Robert F. Kennedy, 1968
Senator Robert Kennedy's funeral is the only one to ever take place at night at Arlington
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