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Haile Selassie Wappen
25.11.2022 - 59 years ago - 25th November 1963
Emperor Haile Selassie was in Arlington, Virginia.

The John F. Kennedy Funeral

By Mulugeta Haile

Kennedy Funeral - UAQ Stamp
Today in history, 59 years ago, on November 25, 1963 - the funeral of John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the US, was carried out at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia. During the ceremony, 26 heads of States and 85 world representatives were present to pay their last respect to the late President. According to protocol, Emperor Haile Selassie stood very close to the President's casket.

In the early morning service at the church, the Emperor arrived late and Charles de Gaulle, the President of France inadvertently sat at the Emperor’s designated place, but was whispered to move a little farther along the first pew.

Though the protocol officer must pretend that every leader is like other leader, distinguishable only by the alphabet, this did not apply to the Lion of Judah, Emperor Haile Selassie . The following day, to comfort the first family at the White House, only four leaders were selected and the Emperor was the first to be called in. He was more effective in comforting the first family, who kept him busy. The President’s children were on his lap, John-John, a son of the President, asking his mom, why their guest had all these medial on his chest, the first lady answered, “Because he is a super hero”.

Rose Fitzgerald, the president’s mother, who discovered that she was the same age with the Emperor, she engaged him in intense conversation. When she said that was not fair for parents to bury their children, he added that it was not fair either for youth to bury their father, mother, brother, and sister. He mentioned that when he was 14 years old and 16, he buried his father and older brother, respectively. At top of his high career, he also buried his two daughter, two sons and wife. In that moment, nobody could speak about a family loss with authority like Emperor Haile Selassie. After all, he grew up without a mother and father, brother and sister.

John F. Kennedy Funeral 1963

According to Captain Alemhayhu's memo, the airplane that was carrying the Emperor to Washington DC, one of its engine was stopped functioning, as they were crossing the Atlantic. The Captain wanted an emergency landing, but the Emperor insisted to carry on. He wanted to be on time to say farewell to the late President who honored him as no other world leader had ever honored him.

Two months before President Kennedy was assassinated, the President invited the Emperor to US and said, “In welcoming His Majesty, we honor not only a distinguished leader of his country and a distinguished world figure, but we also welcome a man whose place in history is already assured.”

It is fitting to remember Edward Ullendorff’s statement, which he made to his students at Harvard University, “When great men described Haile Selassie, he remained to be great, but in the description of small minds, he will appear to be as small as their mindset.” Sadly enough in the current Tribal Apartheid Ethiopia, there is not a day that passes without the tribalists leaders demonizing the Emperor.

Haile Selassie & John F. Kennedy in Oval Office - White House - 1st October 1963
Haile Selassie and John F. Kennedy in Oval Office - 1963

Photo: Abbie Rowe - White House Photographs

Text: Mulugeta Haile / Ethiopia


Haile Selassie Siegel