JFK Eternal Flame to Burn in Ireland

Arlington flame bound for Irish site where JFK visited 50 years ago.

June 18, 2013, 12:47 PM

June 18, 2013 -- The John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame generated new light today. Part of the flame was taken by torch from the presidential memorial at his gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery and is being transported to New Ross, County Wexford, Ireland.

The flame will be placed at a memorial there in celebration of the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's visit to Ireland.

The transition of the flame took place at a ceremony this morning at Arlington. The ceremony began with a wreath-laying in honor of the 35th president of the United States.

The ceremony continued with both countries' national anthems, with members of both countries' militaries present.

The Kennedy family was represented by Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, D-Mass., who spoke on behalf of his great-uncle about how humbling the honor is for the family.

"The story of the president's trip to Ireland is the story of a young man returning home," he said of the June 27, 1963, visit. "It's the story of a thousand welcomes and million tears."

Members from the Irish Embassy also spoke to illustrate the effect Kennedy has had on the Irish people.

Irish Minister of State Paul Kehoe called President Kennedy a voice of hope. "He was that embodiment of that hope … living proof that Irish people could do anything they set their minds to," Kehoe said, adding that Kennedy arrived just when Ireland needed a source of encouragement.

The Kennedy Torch was lit from the eternal flame. The torch was passed down a line of representatives from the Irish Defense Forces, Special Olympics, U.S. Peace Corps and New Ross Town Council.

The flame will be transferred from the Kennedy Torch to the Kennedy Lamps for its journey across the Atlantic to County Wexford, which was not the only place where President Kennedy spoke in 1963. But it's from where his great-grandfather emigrated in 1848.

The lamp will be dedicated at its new home Saturday.

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