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Defence Forces central to Kennedy Flame ceremony in Arlington - Kehoe

The Minister of State at the Department of Defence and Government Chief Whip, Minister Paul Kehoe T.D., and a colour party of the Irish Defence Forces played a central role in a ceremony at Arlington Cemetery in Washington D.C. along with members of the US military.

The Irish Government, represented by Minister of State at the Department of Defence, Paul Kehoe T.D. and members of the Kennedy family, including Congressman Joe Kennedy III, participated a ceremony where a flame was taken from the Eternal Flame on the grave of President John F. Kennedy in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington. This is the first time since the death of President Kennedy in 1963 that the Kennedy family have allowed a flame be taken from the grave. The presence of Congressman Joe Kennedy III at the ceremony in Arlington gave a visible indication of the support of the Kennedy family for the events planned as part of the JFK50 celebrations.

The flame was taken from the grave by a member of the colour party of the Irish Defence Forces. The Irish Army will bring the flame back to Ireland where it will pass from the Irish Army to the Irish Naval Service in a ceremony at Dublin Airport on Thursday morning. The Naval Service will take the flame from Dublin to New Ross onboard the LE Orla where it will be used by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D., Caroline Kennedy and Jean Kennedy-Smith to light the Emigrant Flame in a special ceremony on the 22 June.

Minister of State at the Department of Defence, Paul Kehoe T.D. stated

This ceremony in Arlington marks the start of the JFK 50 celebrations. It is the first time the US military and the Kennedy family have allowed a flame be taken from the Eternal Flame on President Kennedy's grave. We will take this flame on a journey home to Ireland where it will be used to light an Emigrant Flame in New Ross to honour all the emigrants, including Patrick Kennedy, who left our nation to start new lives in the US, the UK, Australian, Canada and countries across the globe. This flame is a powerful symbol. The Irish Defence Forces will play a central role not just in the ceremony at Arlington but in further ceremonies at Dublin Airport on June 20th and at the Kennedy Homestead, the JFK Arboretum and in New Ross on the 22nd June.

President Kennedy’s deep affection for Ireland began a wonderful relationship between the Kennedy family and Ireland. Congressman Joseph Kennedy III is the most recent, of many members of the Kennedy clan, who have contributed so much to Ireland, over so many decades. We are truly honoured to have him with us on this special occasion. His involvement together with the fact that over 30 members of the Kennedy family are travelling from the US to Ireland to be part of the JFK 50 events, proves beyond doubt that the close ties that this most famous of Irish emigrant families has with the land of their ancestors is as true today as it was in 1963.

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