A Multimedia Presentation of

Exerpted from the book
RFK Funeral Train
Published by Umbrage Editions

June 8, 1968

by Evan Thomas

On Saturday afternoon, June 8, Kennedy's body, as President Lincoln's 103 years before, was carried by a funeral train from New York to Washington. As they had for Lincoln, many thousands - perhaps, for RFK, a million people - lined the tracks. The coffin, on a bier close to the floor of the observation car, could not be seen by bystanders. So Kennedy's pallbearers lifted it up and placed it, a bit precariously, on chairs. Along the route of the train, Boy Scouts and firemen braced at attention; nuns, some wearing dark glasses, stood witness; housewives wept. Thousands and thousands of black people waited quietly in the heat, perhaps because they lived close to the tracks, but also because they had felt for Kennedy, and knew they would miss him. "Marvelous crowds," said Arthur Schlesinger, staring out the window as the train slowly rocked south. "Yes," said Kenny O'Donnell. "But what are they good for now?"

Many of us in America believed that that President John F. Kennedy was nurturing a renewed belief in the concept of government as an enabler for all its citizens instead of an acquiescent handmaiden to the privileged and the powerful. Before he was able to instill that as a working principle in our society he was gunned down by an assassin. Five years later when Bobby rose to try to reestablish a government of hope, the hearts of Americans quickened and excitement flared. Then tragedy struck again.

The blow was monumental. Hope-on-the-rise had again been shattered and those in most need of hope crowded the tracks of Bobby's last train, stunned into disbelief, and watched that hope trapped in a coffin pass and disappear from their lives.

- Paul Fusco

Enter the RFK Funeral Train Photo Gallery


Get the Free RealPlayer to watch these video clips.

Paul Fusco introduction
Working for Look Magazine
"We almost always worked with a writer."
"Get your cameras and get on that train."
"He had a huge effect... he gave them hope."
"A prolonged, endless display of loss and love."
On the loss of Jack and Bobby Kennedy.
Would he get back into magazine photography?
"I've been trying to get them published for 30 years."
"Photography is a powerful language."

RFK Funeral Train
is on sale at
Photo Eye Books
See more of Paul
Fusco's work at

Write a Letter to the Editor
Join our Mailing List
© The Digital Journalist