VIRGINIA

John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame scheduled for upgrades

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It’s been burning since the 60s, but now the John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame is losing its spark.

The flame is running on the last of three burners at Arlington National Cemetery.

The flame has been operating nonstop, without a single upgrade, since 1967. But time and weather have taken their toll. The race is now on to help the fading flame have a brighter future.

The sights and sounds of Arlington National Cemetery attracts more than four million annual visitors. But one sound is catching tourists off guard as they honor the youngest man ever elected to the nation's highest office.

"There's a clicking noise," Meg Fahrenbrook of Texas said."It's a little bit dimmer than it has been in past years."

After burning nonstop for 46 years, the eternal flame at the John F. Kennedy family gravesite will finally get about $350,000 worth of long-over due upgrades.

New energy efficient gas lines will go in, along with a new burner. The changes will also provide for easier maintenance.

Michael Wilson, who was visiting from Kentucky, said, "I hope it burns for eternity, because I know how important it is to look at the flame and what it represents."

"It's kind of a little white glimmer of hope for all those people that sacrificed so much for their country," added Kentucky native Justin Dixon.

The memorial was inspired by the eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Paris. First Lady Jackie Kennedy wished to mark her husband's grave the same way.

The flame went out once when a visiting Catholic school group accidentally doused it with holy water.

It was lit again in 1967 and hasn't gone out since.

Tourist hope the upcoming upgrades ensure it burn brightly for eternity, inspiring the next generation of leaders.

There is no definitive timetable for when repairs will start and end. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Norfolk District signed on a Maryland company to do the work. They hope for it to start with the month. At that point, a temporary flame will be lit while the permanent one is fixed.

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