On Sunday, Nov. 24, 1963, President John F. Kennedy's casket emerged from the White House, along with Jacqueline Kennedy and her two children, Caroline and John.
As "Hail to the Chief" played, Kennedy's flag-draped casket was placed into the Capitol rotunda, where it would to lie in state. President Johnson placed a wreath at the foot of the bier. With Caroline kneeling beside her, Mrs. Kennedy kissed the coffin of her husband.
About a quarter million people lined up in the cold for a chance to view the president's casket in the rotunda. "So great
is the crush outside the Capitol ... waiting to get in," reported CBS News' Charles Collingwood, "that
people who have not been in line at 10 o'clock can't possibly go by the coffin
before it is born away at 10 o'clock tomorrow."
Kennedy's funeral, on Nov. 25, 1963, drew leaders and heads of state from some 53 countries, including 18 presidents. Mrs. Kennedy made a special request for another group to take part in the ceremonies – 27 young Irish Army cadets, whose silent honor guard drill for the dead had captivated Kennedy when he visited Dublin several months before. The cadets were whisked from their barracks and flown to Washington.
Like the day before, Kennedy's caisson was pulled by four horses, including a riderless horse to symbolize the fallen commander in chief. The casket was followed by the president's personal American flag and a procession that included his brothers, Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, and dignitaries from around the world. CBS News reported that the only woman other than Jacqueline Kennedy walking in the massive procession was Queen Frederika of Greece.
Outside the cathedral after the service, three-year-old John F. Kennedy, Jr. saluted the coffin of his father – a moment captured in an iconic image by photographer Stan Stearns.
Robert Poole, author of "On Hallowed Ground," told CBS News that the eternal flame was a last-minute idea of Jacqueline Kennedy's. She had chosen Arlington Cemetery's Section 45 as a final resting spot because it had been one of her husband's favorite spots. In fact, Poole said, while the president visited that location of the cemetery in March 1963 and looked across the Potomac River, Kennedy remarked to a friend: "I could stay here forever."
CBS News' Charles Collingwood ended the network's four days of reporting and broadcasting of the Kennedy's assassination and funeral.
“These four days began in consternation and grief," Collingwood said. "They ended tonight with the focus on the new president. That is the way nations survive. The president may die, the presidency must not.”