ON THIS DATE in 1964, seventeen-year-old photographer John Shearer shot an unforgettable image of John F. Kennedy Jr. saluting his father’s casket while Jacqueline Kennedy, holding little Caroline Kennedy’s hand, looked on during a funeral for the slain president.
(Stan Stearns of United Press International snapped the same image from a different angle).
Shooting for Look magazine, Shearer accompanied one of the magazine’s veteran photographers, Arthur Rothstein, to the Kennedy funeral. “Take as many pictures as you can of people grieving,” Rothstein said. Shearer moved around, “shooting over the shoulders or under the legs of other photographers,” until he found a spot with a clear view of the Kennedy family near the coffin at the Arlington National Cemetery.
The photographer witnessed Jacqueline Kennedy whisper something into John Jr.’s ear, and the little boy, who had just turned three, crisply saluted the coffin. “I had my picture,” Shearer said, adding that “luck – and the fearlessness of youth – were on my side that day.”