Wednesday 20 September 2017

Fifty years on our cadets pay tribute at grave of JFK

Lt Col John Dunne holds the wreath as he and other members of the 37th cadet class who performed a drill at John F Kennedy's funeral at Arlington National Cemetery in 1963, gathered to lay a wreath at the grave yesterday.
Lt Col John Dunne holds the wreath as he and other members of the 37th cadet class who performed a drill at John F Kennedy's funeral at Arlington National Cemetery in 1963, gathered to lay a wreath at the grave yesterday.

THEY formed a guard of honour at the funeral of US President John F Kennedy. Fifty years on, 11 members of the 37th Irish Defence Forces Army Cadet class returned to his grave to lay a wreath in his memory.

The cadets were the first foreign honour guard to perform at the grave of a US president in 1963. On a bitterly cold day they stood in solemn tribute at Arlington National Park in Virginia, as Lt Col John Dunne placed the wreath.

They included Dick Heaslip, now a retired army colonel and the father of Irish rugby star Jamie Heaslip.

The young men had been called to the funeral 50 years ago by JFK's wife, Jackie, who recalled how the president had been moved when watching Irish cadets perform at Arbour Hill.

The president had watched the 36th class of Irish cadets perform their silent drive at the grave of the 1916 leaders during his June 1963 visit to Ireland. Months later the 37th class were forming a guard-of-honour at the president's funeral following his assassination.

Five cadets from the current 89th class accompanied the former cadets yesterday, presenting the Irish colours next to the grave.

The ceremony was attended by the Irish Ambassador to the United States, Anne Anderson.

Irish Independent

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