Yesterday's ceremony was the American send-off of the Eternal Flame from President John F. Kennedy's grave site, before it began its journey to the Kennedy family's ancestral home in New Ross, County Wexford, Ireland. The day was cloudy and rain fell in buckets until the start of the ceremony. Just in time, the clouds parted and the rain subsided. The official ceremony began with a traditional bagpiper positioned on the hillside above the grave, playing, "Mist-Covered Mountain." This was the haunting lament performed at President Kennedy's funeral in November 1963. The Honorable Kevin Conmy, Irish Deputy Head of Mission, gave opening remarks after the laying of the wreath, and then introduced two of Ireland's tenors. Anthony sang The Star Spangled Banner. His voice was strong and powerful, and the ceremony itself was brief but incredibly moving. Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III represented the Kennedy family. Of interest -- we were told this was the first time part of the Eternal Flame was taken from President Kennedy's grave site. Guests included members of the Kennedy, Shriver, and Lawford families and others -- and throngs of press. Anthony was interviewed by several members of the media including RTE. Later at the Irish Ambassador's Residence, Tim Shriver, chief of the Special Olympics, gave a touching account of his mother Eunice Kennedy's trip to Ireland with the late President and her sister, Jean Kennedy-Smith, in June 1963. This was a trip the two sisters cherished because of the time they spent with their brother in such a welcoming land. The Irish Minister of State at the Department of Defense and Government Chief Whip, Minister Paul Kehoe T.D., also gave a moving speech about the meaning of President Kennedy's visit for the Irish people. In his opening remarks, he mentioned his longtime friendship with Anthony -- and said that, back in the old days, he never would have imagined himself being with Anthony at such a special ceremony in America to commemorate the late President Kennedy's visit to Ireland and taking a bit of the Eternal Flame from his grave site home to Ireland.
The "Gathering Torch" used to transport the flame is made from Irish ash wood and is carved with a likeness of JFK. The torches were modeled after those used to transport the Olympic Flame during the 2012 London Olympics.
First time the Kennedy's have allowed a flame be taken from the Eternal Flame on JFK's grave.
JFK EMIGRANT FLAME CEREMONY
JUNE 18, 2013
U.S. and Irish military guards.
Irish Deputy Head of Mission, Kevin Conmy, stands at the podium.
Anthony with Minister Paul Kehoe T.D.
Anthony Kearns and Mrs. Marie Collins, wife of Irish Ambassador Michael Collins.
Thanks to Kirsten Fedewa & Assoc., LLC
Cllr Paul Crowlde, Chairman of the New Ross Town Council.
Anthony sings the Star Spangled Banner.
Anthony with Tim Shriver (head of Special Olympics) at the Irish Ambassador's Residence in Washington, D.C.