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. (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. 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 to them and putting them to bed. The fidgety First Son waits with Secret Service agents and reporters as President Kennedy delivers his Veterans Day address. During the solemn Veteran’s Day ceremonies, however, JFK became concerned that his son was too excitable and fidgety and asked that he be brought to him as the event broke up. John F. Kennedy, Jr., popularly known in the press as “John-John” sat and waited out of public view as his father spoke, waiting with Secret Service agents and press photographers. He waited patiently, tucking his hands behind his back in one of the mannerisms his mother had taught him to perform as polite behavior. Still, the President’s son was eager to be rejoined with his father. Brought to the presidential limousine to wait, John Kennedy, Jr. waits for his father to return. As the ceremonies concluded, the President and a phalanx of military officers headed towards the presidential limousine and JFK, Jr. spotted

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

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