Robert F. Kennedy Gravesite

Cross at the Robert F. Kennedy Gravesite

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.

Robert F. Kennedy Gravesite

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 National Cemetery.

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