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Thousands File Past Kennedy’s Coffin at U.S. Capitol

Nov. 24, 1963 - Thousands of sorrowing Americans filed past John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s bier in the Great Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol today. Mr. Kennedy’s body lay in state in the center of the vast, stone-floored chamber. Some wept. All were hushed. Earlier, a crowd estimated at 300,000 had lined Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenues to watch the passage of the caisson bearing the body of the 35th President of the United States, slain in the 47th year of his life by an assassin’s bullet. Behind the caisson, following military tradition, came a riderless black horse with a pair of military boots reversed in the silver stirrups. The horse, named Black Jack, displayed a skittishness which belied his 16 years. Mrs. Kennedy, her two children, President and Mrs. Johnson, and Mr. Kennedy’s brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, rode in the first car of a 10-car procession that followed the caisson. The procession moved at a funeral pace to the sound of muffled drums. In the Rotunda, the body of John Fitzgerald Kennedy rested upon the same catafalque on which had rested — 98 years ago — the body of Abraham Lincoln, the first American President to be murdered. Gazing on the scene with silent stone eyes from beside the north entrance was a statue of James A. Garfield, the second President to be assassinated.


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