Oak tree at JFK's gravesite victim of Hurricane Irene

WASHINGTON -- For close to 50 years, visitors to President John F. Kennedy's grave at Arlington National Cemetery have found shade under a massive oak tree at the gravesite.

Sadly, the oak tree, which had stood for more than 200 years, was one of five large trees that fell when Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast on Aug. 27, according to Arlington National Cemetery.

After Jacqueline Kennedy selected the sloping hillside in front of Arlington House for her husband's gravesite, architect John Warnecke incorporated the large oak tree into his design, a cemetery news release says.

"An elaborate aeration, drainage, and soil improvement plan was developed and constructed to protect the Arlington Oak from the shock of construction," the news release says.

In the years since, an estimated 100 million visitors have come to the gravesite.

"It is truly unfortunate to see it's now gone - that tree had a significant legacy here at Arlington," Steve Van Hoven, the cemetery's urban forester, said in the news release.

One of the other trees that fell during the storm was the white oak tree near the Pan Am Flight 103 memorial, but it does not appear to have damaged the memorial itself.


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