I was stationed at Dewitt Army Hospital, Fort Belvoir, Va., in 1963. I was in the U.S. Army Medical Corp working as a Medic in the hospital and also assigned to the White House to work during any special events involving the White House.
I worked the three days of President Kennedy’s services.
On Nov. 23, 1963: At the White House:
I worked at the White House for 12 hours where the president’s body was in the East Room for people to pass by his casket. I watched the Honor Guards to treat them if they became ill or passed out while standing guard at the casket.
I worked in shifts of one hour on, and two hours off, for the 12 hours. We would rest in the theater when not on shift.
On Nov. 24, 1963: Pennsylvania Avenue and Rotunda in the Capitol Building:
I worked on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol Building alone, with a doctor and nurse. We stayed on the route to treat anyone that got injured or ill while they were in the procession with the president’s body as it was being moved from the White House to the Rotunda in the Capitol Building.
I worked a 12-hour shift at the Rotunda doing the same thing as at the White House while the public paid their last respects to the president while he lay in state in the Rotunda.
On Nov. 25, 1963: The funeral at Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle:
I worked at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle during the funeral Mass and then at the National Cemetery during the burial.
This time of year always brings back memories, but sustains my faith and hope as a Catholic in remembering that President Kennedy’s accomplishments were for the good of all people. It makes me proud to have served in the military while a Catholic president was in office who promoted peace.
I’ll always remember the day of his burial, because my father died the day after, and he was also a peaceful man of great faith.