The President's Funeral
That same day, President Kennedy's flag-draped casket was moved from the White House to the Capitol on a caisson drawn by six grey horses, accompanied by one riderless black horse. At Mrs. Kennedy's request, the cortege and other ceremonial details were modeled on the funeral of Abraham Lincoln. Crowds lined Pennsylvania Avenue and many wept openly as the caisson passed. During the 21 hours that the president's body lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda, about 250,000 people filed by to pay their respects.
On Monday, November 25, 1963 President Kennedy was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. The funeral was attended by heads of state and representatives from more than 100 countries, with untold millions more watching on television. Afterward, at the grave site, Mrs. Kennedy and her husband's brothers, Robert and Edward, lit an eternal flame.
Perhaps the most indelible images of the day were the salute to his father given by little John F. Kennedy Jr. (whose third birthday it was), daughter Caroline kneeling next to her mother at the president's bier, and the extraordinary grace and dignity shown by Jacqueline Kennedy.
As people throughout the nation and the world struggled to make sense of a senseless act and to articulate their feelings about President Kennedy's life and legacy, many recalled these words from his inaugural address:
All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days, nor in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this administration. Nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.
The Warren Commission
On November 29, 1963 President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy. It came to be known as the Warren Commission after its chairman, Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the United States. President Johnson directed the commission to evaluate matters relating to the assassination and the subsequent killing of the alleged assassin, and to report its findings and conclusions to him. The Warren Commission's report is available here.
The House Select Committee on Assassinations
The US House of Representatives established the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1976 to reopen the investigation of the assassination in light of allegations that previous inquiries had not received the full cooperation of federal agencies.
Note to the reader: Point 1B in the link below to the findings of the 1979 House Select Committee on Assassinations states that the committee had found "a high probability that two gunmen fired" at the president. This conclusion resulted from the last-minute “discovery” of a Dallas police radio transmission tape that allegedly provided evidence that four or more shots were fired in Dealey Plaza. After the report appeared in print, acoustic experts analyzed the tape and proved conclusively that it was completely worthless—thus negating the finding in Point 1B.
The committee, which also investigated the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., issued its report on March 29, 1979. To see the report, click here.
Assassination Records Collection
Through the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, the US Congress ordered that all assassination-related material be housed together under supervision of the National Archives and Records Administration. Learn more about the collection here.
Arlington National Cemetery
To learn more about President Kennedy's funeral and grave site, go to the Arlington National Cemetery website.