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Has the John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame Ever Been Extinguished?

The "eternal flame" burning at John F. Kennedy's gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery hasn't quite lived up to the name, but it has only had a few minor setbacks since it started burning in 1963. The flame has been extinguished twice in 55 years. The first time came with a bit of irony, as a group of Catholic schoolchildren accidentally doused it with holy water just a month after it was lit at Kennedy's temporary gravesite. The second incident occurred in 1967, soon after the permanent memorial was opened, when heavy flooding not only put out the flame but also damaged the transformer that would otherwise have reignited it immediately. Since then, though, the flame has been fault-free and has continued to symbolize Kennedy's enduring legacy.

Remembering the 35th President of the United States:

  • John F. Kennedy is the only Purple Heart recipient and the only Pulitzer Prize winner to be elected U.S. president.

  • According to some accounts, Kennedy expected Lyndon Johnson to reject the offer to be his running mate in the 1960 election. He then sent his brother, Robert F. Kennedy, to try to change Johnson's mind after he accepted.

  • During his time as a U.S. congressman and later as president, Kennedy donated all of his salary to charity.

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