Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Antietam visit: JFK at Burnside Bridge

President Kennedy flew to Sharpsburg, Md. by helicopter from nearby Camp David to visit the
battlefield. This 1963 photo, now part of a wayside exhibit at Antietam, was shot at Burnside Bridge.
This photo of President Kennedy with Antietam National Battlefield acting superintendent Robert Lagemann is part of the wayside exhibit in the parking lot above Burnside Bridge. Kennedy, assassinated 48 years ago today in Dallas, visited the battlefield on April 7, 1963, spending about 90 minutes there with a small party that included his brother, Sen. Ted Kennedy, and the senator's wife.

In this seven-minute, silent film of Kennedy's visit that is available on the JFK Presidential Library site, it's amazing to see the president, in an open car, tour the battlefield without drawing a huge crowd. It was a much, much different era. (Check out the car crossing Burnside Bridge at about the five-minute mark. The bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in 1966.)  The president, a history buff, visited Gettysburg the previous Sunday with his wife, Jackie. There's a terrific account of JFK's Gettysburg stop on the outstanding Gettysburg Daily blog.


  1. Wow. What a great video time capsule. It certainly shows how little of the park was open in 1963. The panning shots of the Dunkard Church and adjacent buildings are fascinating. Thanks! John.

  2. Wow. Thanks John for posting this remarkable video time capsule. The panning shots of the Dunkard Church and environs are fascinating. It really shows how much the Park has grown over the past 50 years.