Sen. Kennedy Joins Brothers at Arlington

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Ted Kennedy burial at Arlington Natl Cemetery on 8/29.09
AP
The Kennedys' appreciation for Arlington started when President John Kennedy decided to take a random Sunday drive in March of 1963, eight months before his assassination.

According to Robert Poole, journalist and author of "On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery, Kennedy happened to drive to the cemetery and then decided to walk up a hill, reports CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews.

As the president absorbed the view overlooking the Lincoln Memorial , Poole says, he foretold his fate.

"First he says, 'Would this be a great place for the White House?' and the second thing he says is 'It is so beautiful, I could stay here forever.' Of course it proved to be sadly prophetic statement because a few months later he was dead and this is where he ended up forever," Poole said.

The day after John Kennedy was shot, as he lay in the Capitol Rotunda, Jackie Kennedy slipped away to visit Arlington. Finding a spot on that very same hill and on the same straight line facing Lincoln's Memorial she decided the President would come here, not Massachusetts.

"She said that she wanted him here so that he would belong to the country," Poole said.

What the country saw next had never been seen before on live television. Not just a President burial, but the precise, dignified ceremonies of an Arlington military burial.

"It was the first glimpse that most of the American public had at how special Arlington is and how we honor our heroes here," said Thomas Sherlock, an Arlington historian.

During that ceremony, Jackie passed the Presidents eternal flame to his brothers. First Bobby, who after his assassination was buried here in 1968, and then to Ted. Jackie herself would come to rest here in 1994.

Complete coverage of Sen. Kennedy's life and death

After Kennedy's interment, military requests for burial here almost doubled, visits by tourists quadrupled, and Arlington, always a place of high honor, became a place of national communion. To get to the Kennedy gravesite, millions of people every year pass by the hundreds of thousands of war heroes who'd come before. And no one understood that better than Senator Edward Kennedy.

"Each and every time you could see in his eyes, and in his words, that he truly meant, knew what Arlington meant," Sherlock said.