Robert Kennedy Funeral Train


“When Robert F. Kennedy was shot on June 5, 1968 — exactly 50 years ago — the shock of the assassination was felt far beyond the Los Angeles hotel in which the bullet was fired. Struck down in the middle of his own run for the White House, the New York Senator and brother of a murdered president died the next day. Two days after that came the funeral mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Then, his casket was draped in an American flag and brought by train the 225 miles to Washington, D.C., so Kennedy could be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Though 2,000 people were invited to the church service, the funeral would unexpectedly end up becoming a much bigger affair. Somewhere between 1 and 2 million people showed up to pay their respects by standing alongside the tracks to see the 21-car train carrying the casket, in an echo of the sendoff that Abraham Lincoln got in 1865 after his assassination and General Douglas MacArthur got in 1964. Kennedy’s coffin was in the last car, propped up by red velvet chairs in the dining section so that the public could catch a glimpse of it. What was usually a four-hour train ride took eight hours, to avoid hitting anyone on the tracks. (A train passing by in the other direction fatally struck two onlookers in Elizabeth, N.J.) Some of the most famous images of that journey were taken by Look magazine’s Paul Fusco, who had no other choice but to make the bystanders the center of the story. As he recalled to Publishers Weekly in 2008, ‘There were two private cars, the last two, and we couldn’t get near them—this was a private event. It was off-limits to the press. All I was thinking about was how to get access when we got to Arlington. Then, when the train emerged from beneath the Hudson, and I saw hundreds of people on the platform watching the train come slowly through — it went very slowly — I just opened the window and began to shoot.’ Of the more than 1,000 slides that Fusco shot, only one was published; the editors thought the pictures would seem behind the news by the time the next issue of the bi-weekly magazine hit newsstands. When the magazine folded about three years later, the Library of Congress acquired its archive and most of Fusco’s funeral train photos. …”
TIME: These Poignant Photos of Mourners Watching Robert F. Kennedy’s Funeral Train Weren’t Seen for Decades. Here’s the Story Behind the Pictures
Guardian: Robert F Kennedy’s funeral train by Paul Fusco – in pictures
New Yorker: Robert F. Kennedy’s Funeral Train, Fifty Years Later
The Atlantic – A Portrait of America: Watching Robert F. Kennedy’s Funeral Train Pass By
YouTube: How the iconic photos taken from RFK’s funeral train were almost lost forever

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