Saturday, January 7, 2017


JFK+50:  Volume 7, No. 2182


Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) JFK+50 begins the year 2017 with a review of "Jackie" starring Natalie Portman.  "Jackie" is a Fox Searchlight Pictures film directed by Pablo Larrain.

The screenplay was written by Noah Oppenheim.  Released on December 2, 2016, the movie has an "R" rating and lasts 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Moving forward in the film to a scene at Arlington National Cemetery.  The weather is rainy and misty.  A motorcade of black Lincolns pulls to a stop. Jackie steps out under umbrellas with Bobby and (Bill) Walton.  The cemetery's superintendent, John Metzler* says...

"Welcome to Arlington, Mrs. Kennedy."

After checking out a couple of potential grave sites, Mr. Metzler says...

"The third option is the base of the hill."

Jackie walks out from under an umbrella into the rain...drawn toward the hill.

Bobby asks,

"Where are we going?"

Jackie answers,

"He can't just be buried anywhere.  He deserves more."

In front of the Robert E. Lee Mansion**, Mr. Metzler hands Bill Walton a wooden stake who then drives it into the ground in the center of the hill.  Jackie pulls out the stake, walks a few feet to the right and drives it back into the ground.

It is settled.

*John "Jack" C. Metzler, Sr. (1909-1990) was a Sgt. in WWII & served as superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery from 1952-1972.  He nearly doubled the size of the cemetery during his tenure adding 190 acres to the original 200.  

JCM played a major role in the selection process of the JFK gravesite & after the burial presented Mrs. Kennedy the folded interment flag from JFK's coffin.  Jack's son John C. Metzler, Jr.was ANC superintendent from 1991 to 2010.

**Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, a.k.a. Custis-Lee Mansion is a Greek revival style home adorned with imposing Athenian columns once owned by General Lee.  It was built in 1803 on the order of George Washington Parke Custis, the only grandson of Martha Custis Washington.


The movie does not include the contributions of Sargent Shriver and Robert McNamara in the gravesite selection process.  Sarge, Peace Corps director, was put in charge of the funeral arrangements and it was he who contacted Superintendent Metzler about possible burial at ANC.

Secretary of Defense Bob McNamara contacted Metzler to arrange a tour of potential burial locations.  Three plots were considered, one near the mast of the USS Maine and another at Dewey Circle.  Bob Kennedy saw the third location below the Lee Mansion as "ideal" and Jackie agreed.

Their choice was enhanced when National Park Service employee Paul Fugua recalled JFK's visit to Arlington on March 3, 1963 when the President stood on the hill and said, "I could stay here forever."


"Jackie-Screenplay," by Script Pipeline,

"President John Fitzgerald Kennedy Gravesite," Arlington National Cemetery,

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington, Virginia
Photos by John White (2016)