The memories of President John F Kennedy’s death and funeral are etched in the world’s consciousness but 1st Lieutenant Martin Dockery has rather more intimate recollections to the somber time.
Dockery, from Rye, New York, was in charge of the ushers at Kennedy's funeral at St. Matthew's Cathedral, Washington D.C, and responsible for hosting the 26 Irish cadets, as requested by Jacqueline Kennedy to perform a silent graveside drill.
The 74-year-old veteran will share his memories of 50-years-ago with the New York Irish Center visitors on the evening of Nov 22 2013, the anniversary of the President’s assassination.
Speaking to LoHud earlier this year about his experience with the Irish Cadets Dockery said “they were young, and I worried that the American soldiers might steal them blind. So we moved all of the people out of my barracks and put them in. I made sure they stayed out of trouble. They were excited, but they behaved.
"I remember how we marveled at their deportment and precision drilling as they practiced the day before the funeral.”
The 26 Irish Defence Force Cadets travelled with the Irish President Eamon de Valera. Together they paid tribute to Kennedy’s Irish ancestry as he was laid to rest.
On Friday evening “Kennedy’s Cadets” will be aired. This documentary tells these cadet’s extraordinary story of how a group of Irish teenagers found themselves catapulted to the forefront of the world’s media, standing beside the grave of the most powerful man in the western world, in the space of 48 hours.
And, in a truly emotional epilogue to the story, three of the members of that cadet class who have not returned to Washington since 1963, make that journey once more, to the gravesite where they stood with their classmates, all those years ago.
The screening will take place at the New York Irish Center (1040 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, Queens). Door open at 7:30pm. 1st Lieutenant Martin Dockery will speak following the screening.
For more information visit www.newyorkirishcenter.org.
Here’s a video of Martin Dockery sharing his memories of JFK’s funeral: