A Correction

Obviously, I wasn't speaking Ex Cathedra yesterday.

My video of the 1968 RFK Funeral is not, in fact, of the 1968 Funeral. A commenter on the YouTube pointed out that it was more likely to be President Johnson's funeral than Attorney General Kennedy's funeral.

So I did some more research.

The first step was to check with my mother who still had the original slides I scanned to make this video. Over the past few weeks, I scanned about 450 slides from the 60s and early 70s. When the photo labs developed most of them, they put the developing date on the slide mount. Unfortunately, these were among the few slides that had no date.

So I looked into which state funerals the country conducted in that general time period. President Ford's recent passing made it somewhat challenging because of the sudden increase in data and commentary on state funerals over the past couple of days.

Because of how prominently President Nixon is featured, and since I don't think my parents had a 35mm camera in November of 1963, I quickly eliminated President Kennedy. That left three presidents who died in the general time period: President Truman, President Eisenhower, and President Johnson.

President Truman had a state funeral, but it wasn't in Washington. It was in Independence, MO. And it was scaled down from original plans.

Originally, he had approved plans by the U.S. Army for an elaborate State funeral. "A damn fine show. I just hate that I'm not going to be around to see it." His widow, however, insisted on a quick and simple ceremony.

So it wasn't his.

Eisenhower had a state funeral late March, 1969. Johnson's was in late January, 1973. So I went back to the pictures.

January in Washington is often snow filled and very cold. March can be blustery, but usually is not as bad.

Evidence from the pictures indicates there are no leaves on the trees, which makes January seem more likely. Since the annual Cherry Blossom Festival begins at the end of March, it is likely there would have been leaves on trees had this been a March Funeral.

President Nixon at President Johnson's (LBJ's)funeral

In this image, we see Nixon, assorted dignitaries, and what appears to be Vice President Agnew standing outside without coats. After President Harrison's death, I would think it would be standard practice for a President to wear a coat if it's cold.

I would also question the wisdom of having Agnew standing next to Nixon at at funeral, given the events of 1963. But that may not be Agnew.

Additionally, there is no snow on the ground. It looked more likely that this was a March funeral.
But then I checked known images from media, Google, presidential libraries, etc. And for both Johnson's and Eisenhower's funerals, there is no snow on the ground.

A check of the historical weather data indicates that on 1973-01-23 the high was 55 degrees and the low was only 42 degrees in Washington, DC.

During Eisenhower's funeral, however, the high was 44 and the low was 32.

So based on the foliage and the way people were dressed, Johnson's funeral seemed the more likely candidate.

Then I found a reference on Wikipedia about how Johnson's casket arrived at, and left from, the Capitol.

Normal procedure for a state funeral is for the casket to arrive and depart from the Center East stairs at the Capitol. In fact, the US Army describes this procedure in the 134 page "State, Official, and Special Military Funerals" manual.

There have been 2 exceptions in recent memory. Most recently, they used the Senate steps for President Ford's funeral because of his long and illustrious career in the US Senate.

And the other exception was Johnson. It wasn't because of his career in the Senate, but rather because of Nixon's second inauguration on 1973-01-20. The stands and stage were still set up on the Capitol's east center steps, so they were blocked.

So I went back to the pictures. Here is the best shot of the steps.

Senate Steps during President Johnson's (LBJ's) State Funeral

Unfortunately, without going to DC, I had to figure out which part of the Capitol this is. Detailed images of the Capitol are harder to find thanI expected, but here is one from the Architect of the Captitol.

East Side US Capitol Building

The Senate wing is on the right of the image.

Here is a tighter image.

US Capitol Senate Steps. Image form flick.com, user Sparky05

Image from Flickr.com, user Sparky05

In this shot, you see more of the center stairs.

US Capitol East Center Steps. Image from Flickr.com, user 0_ryl
Image from Flickr.com, user O_Rly

Unfortunately, they look a lot a like. The key was to look at the top of the original photo. There's nothing above the main part of the building. Since you can't see the dome in it, but can see the sky, it is likely this is the Senate steps. And if it's the Senate steps, it must be Johnson.

Finally, look on top of the TV in this image.

President Johnson's State Funeral

I'm pretty sure that's a Christmas card. Now, my family may like to leave the Christmas decorations up for awhile, but I think March would be really pushing it. This must be in January.
So now, I am confident these images and the video actually depict the state funeral for President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

I hope.

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