Why John F. Kennedy Took His Son to Arlington Cemetery

President John F. Kennedy leads his son John out of Arlington National Cemetery on November 11, 1963.

President John F. Kennedy leads his son John out of Arlington National Cemetery on November 11, 1963.

(This is the first in a series of illustrated articles recounting the last days of the Kennedy family in the White House during November of 1963. Some will be made available for nominal purchase.)

The President and Mrs. Kennedy with their children Caroline and John had spent the weekend of November 9 and 10 at their newly-built home in the Virginia countryside, which the First Lady named “Wexford,” in honor of her husband’s ancestral county in Ireland. On Monday, November 11, 1963, JFK impulsively decided to take his son along to Arlington National Cemetery for his speech and wreath-laying ceremony there on Veteran’s Day.

JFK and a military aide swing "John-John" over some steps. Reporter Helen Thomas is seen at far right.

JFK and a military aide swing “John-John” over some steps. Reporter Helen Thomas is seen at far right.

The month before, while Jackie Kennedy had gone to Greece, Morocco and Turkey with her sister, following the death of her prematurely-born son Patrick, it was the President who had played single parent at the White House, assuming the sole responsibility for his two children.  It had proven to be one of his happiest times, the two children now matured to the point where they could be enjoyed as individual personalities. Later in November his daughter would turn six years old and his son three years old. He’d taken them swimming in the enclosed White House pool every night before reading

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Categories: First Families, First Sons, Presidents, The Kennedys

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