The Kennedy Family’s Last Public Appearance Together

The President and Mrs. Kennedy with their children Caroline and John, Jr. listening and watching to the Black Watch Highlanders, the Scottish bagpipers, perform from the White House South Portico, November 13, 1963. Among the many public projects of Jacqueline Kennedy as First Lady which continue to be overlooked was her ongoing effort to use the expanse of the great South Lawn of the White House as an outdoor space to provide entertainment for various demographics of young people. She organized a lawn reception for foreign exchange students pursuing higher education at American colleges, for example. Another was a ballet performance. The Black Watch electrified the November chill with the sound of bagpipes and drums. Perhaps the one which came to assume the greatest significance to the public, however, was the November 13, 1963 performance by the Black Watch of the Royal Highlanders Regiment, the Scottish regimental marching band. Although Jackie Kennedy had remained at the family’s new weekend home on Rattlesnake Mountain in Atoka, Virginia while her husband returned to the White House with their children, the First Lady had read some time before that the Black Watch would be performing in the Washington area and quickly had their manager contacted to see if they would perform for local school children. The President and Mrs. Kennedy walked onto the lawn to greet the Back Watch regiment in a small ceremonial gift presentation and remarks by JFK. They quickly agreed and the White House invited several hundred students and teachers from both local and private schools, including a Catholic grammar school contingency which was escorted there by the nuns who taught them. As it would turn, the event also became the first and last time where the entire First Family, President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, First Daughter Caroline Kennedy and First Son John Kennedy ever made a public appearance at an official White House event together. The President and Mrs. Kennedy united with their children on their way to the White House together for the first time, February 1961. When the family first moved into the White House in January of 1961, John F. Kennedy, Jr. was an infant less than two months old; his sister was just three years and two months old. Their mother did not want them visible at any of the Inauguration festivities, and not until two weeks later did she have them

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Categories: First Families, First Ladies, History, The Kennedys

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