Online Collection

"A Last Salute to the President" lithographic print

Object Number: 2017.051.0001
Category: Art
Type of Object: Lithograph
Date: 1964
Dimensions: 14 × 10 15/16 in. (35.6 × 27.8 cm)
Medium: Paper
Lithographic print by Arthur P. Freeman titled "A Last Salute to the President" and copyrighted 1964, printed on thin watercolor paper.

The print shows a large profile portrait of President John F. Kennedy against a cloudy blue sky and suggestions of an American flag behind him in the upper right corner of the print. In the middle ground is the dome of the United States Capitol building on the left side of the print flanked by various forms of greenery and other cloud forms on the right middle ground. In the right foreground is a likeness of John F. Kennedy, Jr. as a little boy wearing a blue coat, white socks, and shiny brown shoes reminiscent of what he wore the day of his father's funeral, Monday, November 25, 1963. John F. Kennedy, Jr. is shown with his right hand up to his forehead in a saluting position; this is the iconic image of him from President Kennedy's funeral. In the left foreground is an image of a white banner with greenery underneath it; text painted in red on the banner: "a Last Salute to the President - / John F. Kennedy Jr."

In the lower right corner is the following text printed over the image in black:
"(c) 1964, Arthur P. Freeman".

These images are not available online larger than a thumbnail to protect the copyright of their creator(s). For a more detailed examination of this item, please schedule an appointment in the Museum’s Reading Room.
Curator's Notes

Included in the Museum's temporary exhibit, "Mourning a President," about the funeral and mourning rites for President John F. Kennedy, this item will be on display on the Museum's seventh floor from November 17, 2017 to February 19, 2018. -- Lindsey Richardson, Curator of Collections

Three-year-old John F. Kennedy, Jr. saluting his father's casket, as captured by several still and moving photographers that Monday, November 25, was arguably the singular image that affected the nation and the world more profoundly than any other in a weekend filled with vivid and powerful imagery. Those who witnessed that moment live began to "crumple as though struck," as described by William Manchester in "The Death of a Preisdent." Cardinal Cushing, speaking eight months after the Kennedy funeral, recalled watching the young boy's salute: "Oh God, I almost died." It was a moment that inspired poets, artists, musicians and sculptors, and it remains one of the most recognized images of the era.

In "The Death of a President," Manchester writes of this moment: "Somehow the mood and meaning of the day had reached the President's son. His elbow was cocked at precisely the right angle, his hand was touching the shock of hair, his left arm was rigidly at his side, his shoulders were squared and his chin in. His bearing was militant, and to see it in a three-year-old, with his bare legs stiff below his short coat, his knees dimpled and his blunt red shoes side by side--to hear the slow swell of the music, and recall how the President had idolized him--was almost insupportable." -- Stephen Fagin, Curator   

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