Remembering Robert F. Kennedy’s Funeral Train

More than 40 years ago, Robert F. Kennedy died after being shot by Sirhan Sirhan at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California.  This tragedy took place mere minutes after Kennedy won the state’s Democratic presidential primary election.

On June 8, Kennedy’s body passed through Delaware County on its way to the nation’s capital on a funeral train. His funeral was the only nighttime funeral in the history of Arlington National Cemetery. It was not planned that way, however. It just happened because of the delays caused by the more than one million mourners who stood alongside the tracks of the funeral train as his body went by.

One of the most amazing parts of Kennedy’s assassination was his concern for others despite what happened to him. Just seconds after he was shot, a hotel busboy heard the senator ask if everybody was alright while he was probably in anguish from the gunshot wounds.

Those words are the subject of a documentary that Oscar-winning filmmaker Jon Blair created on about the incident. He asks “Is everybody alright?” referring to the people who lined the tracks as the train’s funeral cars went by.  You can read more about the documentary here and order the documentary online.

Stories – and documentaries – like this illustrate just how important modes of transportation can be during a funeral.  While funeral trains were long retired by the time Kennedy died, reviving them for his funeral gave the country a chance to come together to mourn – and comfort.