(Video courtesy of the John. F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston).
Don Rickel of Oregon was a doorman with at the U.S. House of Representatives in 1963. He shared some of his memories of the time with U.S. News.
[READ MORE: JFK: 50 Years Later]
"Friday the 22nd of November in Washington, D.C., the city was very quiet for a Friday afternoon," he remembered. "Back up on “The Hill” in offices of the members of Congress people were dazed, crying, just sitting looking out into space with television sets and radios all telling the story of what was happening in Dallas."
"My personal memories were of the hundreds of people waiting in the lines in the cold to view the body laying in state in the capitol rotunda," he continued. "The number of world leaders that came to pay their respects to a fallen President -- they may have disagreed with his politics, his religion, his family, etc., but came to pay respects to a leader of the USA. At the grave, I was standing behind several of these world leaders, in fact just 10 feet from Charles DeGaulle."
Rickel told U.S. News that, from his vantage point at the funeral, he could see that Mrs. Kennedy was having trouble lighting the eternal flame at her husband's grave. Cardinal Cushing handed her a cigarette lighter to help light the flame again, he said.
"In addition to the relighting of the eternal flame, which was very moving, my final and most emotional memory was the fly over of Air Force One," Rickel said. "Just as the body was lowered into the grave, Air Force One flew over the cemetery as slow and low as possible. When right over the grave, the pilot dipped the left wing to salute the fallen Commander in Chief and, with the sunset in the West showing on the side of the plane, the words 'United States of America' just glistened. After the wing salute he put the plane into a very sharp climb, as if to say, 'We may we down but we are not out, and the United States of America is climbing strong and high.' "
Footage from the day of the funeral is above.
For more about John F. Kennedy, visit JFK: 50 Years Later.