President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and two Kennedy infants are interred in Lot 45, Section 30, Arlington National Cemetery. The permanent graves are located about 20 feet east of the site where the President was temporarily interred on 25 November 1963. Each is marked by a simply inscribed gray slate tablet.
Work on the permanent burial site began soon after the President's death and was completed on 20 July 1967. The grave area, which measures 18 by 30 feet, corresponds in size to many special lots in Arlington assigned for the burial of such other outstanding men as President William Howard Taft, Secretary of War John W. Weeks, General of the Armies John J. Pershing, and General Philip Henry Sheridan. It is surrounded by a stone grave terrace, which lies on the axis from the Lincoln Memorial across the Memorial Bridge to the Arlington House.
The grave area is paved with irregular stones of Cape Cod granite, which were quarried about 150 years ago near the site of the President's home and were located by members of his family. Fescue and clover have been planted in the crevices to give the appearance of stones lying naturally in a Massachusetts field.
Upon entering the general area, visitors approach the grave by way of a depressed circular walkway to a granite elliptical plaza overlooking the axial vista toward the city. The plaza is bounded by a granite wall, the relatively low top of which is tapered and inscribed with quotations from President Kennedy's Inaugural address and other speeches. From the plaza, another short flight of steps leads to the rectangular terrace and the grave plot. To provide access for handicapped persons to the President's site, a concealed greenstone walkway has been constructed on the slope north of the grave area.
The Eternal Flame, lighted by Mrs. Kennedy on the day of the funeral, now burns from the center of a 5-foot circular flat granite stone located at the head of the President's grave. The burner, a specially designed apparatus which was created by the Institute of Gas Technology of Chicago, consists of a nozzle and electric ignition system. A constantly flashing electric spark near the tip of the nozzle relights the gas if the flame is extinguished by rain, wind, or accidents. The fuel is natural gas mixed with proper quantities of air to control the color and shape of the flame.
The entire site, with a total area of about 3.2 acres, was set aside by the Secretary of the Army with the approval of the Secretary of Defense to honor the memory of the President. The land has been retained for the nation as a whole and has not been deeded to the Kennedy family. The steep hillside had never been considered suitable for graves or a general burial section. The area now is appropriately landscaped with new plantings mingled among some of the historic trees. While magnolias predominate, there are crab apple, willow oak, hawthorn, yellow wood, American holly, and cherry trees interspersed among flowering plants and shrubs. Some of the larger trees were selected for their grace and beauty from nearby locations and were donated to the Government by their owners.
Actual costs in the immediate grave area were paid by the Kennedy family. The Government was responsible for the improvements in the surrounding area that were provided for the accommodation of the visiting public. Funds in the amount of $1,770,000 were included for this purpose in the Fiscal Year 1965 Public Works Appropriation. In addition, funds in the amount of $71,026 were expended from cemetery maintenance funds for temporary visitor control and landscape work on adjacent burial areas. The amount paid by the Kennedy family was $632,364.
The architect who designed the permanent gravesite was John Carl Warnecke of John Carl Warnecke and Associates, Washington, D. C., in association with Ammann and Whitney, Structural Engineers, New York, N. Y. The Aberthaw Construction Company, Boston, Massachusetts, carried out the work under the supervision of the U. S. Army District Engineer, Norfolk, Virginia.