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JFK’s Body in Closed, Flag-Draped Coffin in East Room of White House

Nov. 23, 1963 - The body of John Fitzgerald Kennedy lay in repose today in a closed, flag-draped coffin in the East Room of the White House. Two priests, kneeling in silent prayer, and a military guard of honor kept constant watch. Mrs. Kennedy, her two children, and other members of the family were the first to visit the room. Tomorrow, the coffin will be taken to the great Rotunda of the Capitol to lie in state and to permit public viewing. The coffin will be closed. On Monday, proclaimed by President Johnson as a national day of mourning, a funeral will be held in St. Matthew’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Washington. The White House announced that a horse-drawn caisson, with ceremonial troops representing each service, would bear Mr. Kennedy’s body to the Capitol and from there to the church on Monday in a traditional military procession. A corps of drummers will beat muffled cadence for the procession. Mr. Kennedy will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in accordance with the wishes of the family. He will thus become the second President to be buried near the famed shrine of the Tomb of the Unknowns. William Howard Taft, the 27th President, lies buried near a towering iron gate at the cemetery entrance.


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