On March 31, 1963, President John F. Kennedy with some friends and members of his family drove from a church service at Camp David, Maryland to tour the Gettysburg Battlefield. Their last stop was the Eternal Light Peace Memorial (Peace Light) [Top photo]
From the Gettysburg Daily: “The Peace Light at Gettysburg was said by Jack Valenti, who was an aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson, to be the source for the eternal flame on President Kennedy’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery (Bottom). Valenti who was later president of the Motion Picture Assocation of America, related the story when he toured the Gettysburg battlefield, circa 1987, with Licensed Battlefield Guide Bob Mullen. Valenti stated that President Johnson ordered him to take care of the Kennedy funeral arrangements. Mrs. Kennedy requested that there be an eternal flame on the grave at Arlington. There was confusion among the military about what she was requesting. Valenti went back to Mrs. Kennedy who told Valenti that they had toured the field of Gettysburg, and saw the flame on the Eternal Light Peace Memorial. This is what she wanted on President Kennedy’s grave. Jack Valenti told Licensed Battlefield Guide Bob Mullen, that ‘a few telephone calls were made to the National Military Park at Gettysburg for construction details of the Eternal Peace Light Monument.’”
The second photo is JFK looking at the monument
President Kennedy was also invited to speak for November 19 Centennial ceremony of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery. He was unable to attend because of a scheduled trip to Dallas.