ARLINGTON, Va. – The temporary flame that has been operating at the gravesite of President John F. Kennedy and his family since this spring was transferred to the permanent Eternal Flame in a ceremony Oct. 29. The temporary flame was in place while upgrades and testing took place for the Eternal Flame.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District and its contracting partners replaced the burner assembly and the supporting infrastructure including gas, electric, and compressed air lines for the flame as well as installed new drainage lines below the flame. They also relocated gas pressure regulators from inside to outside the chamber to provide easier maintenance and access.
Fenwal Controls, the designer of the Eternal Flame's ignition system since its installation at the permanent gravesite of President John F. Kennedy in 1967, completed the work in advance of the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's death.
The Eternal Flame burns from the center of a five-foot circular flat-granite stone at the head of the president's grave. A series of electrodes are positioned around the base of the torch to constantly monitor the flame and to instantly relight the gas should the flame be compromised by rain, wind or accident. The upgraded system now includes microprocessor-based controls for higher flame sensitivity and even more consistent, reliable performance under a wider range of temperatures and humidity levels.
This is only the second time in history that a temporary flame has been used at this site. The first time was when Mrs. Kennedy lit a temporary flame during her husband’s interment service on Nov. 25, 1963. That flame was then transferred to the permanent Eternal Flame in March 1967.
“As we approach the 50th Anniversary of President Kennedy’s death, it is fitting that we once again transfer the flame from a temporary one, to the permanent Eternal Flame, a flame that is more modern and efficient, ensuring the light continues to remain a beacon of hope and remembrance for all who see it, a reminder of the President’s legacy to our nation,” said Patrick K. Hallinan, executive director, Army National Military Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery.
Posted Oct. 29