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Jacqueline Kennedy’s Bravery Draws Admiration

Nov. 25, 1963 - Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy went bravely through her final hours of public grief today. She walked the eight long blocks from the White House to St. Matthew’s Roman Catholic Cathedral behind the caisson carrying the body of her husband to the funeral. She stood erect at his graveside, watching the powers of church and state bid him farewell. She carried out a final duty as the President’s wife, greeting at the White House leaders of the nations who had come to pay tribute to Mr. Kennedy. Through the long day of ceremony, she maintained the stoic dignity that she had displayed since an assassin’s bullet killed her husband three days ago. Only twice during the day did her tears appear. Once was in the cathedral, the second time after the burial service. As the ceremony at Arlington ended, she turned suddenly to General Maxwell D. Taylor, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was a step or two away. She embraced him and pressed her veiled cheek against his. Her dark eyes filled, and for an instant her face looked like that of a 34-year-old girl burdened with sorrow, instead of a President’s wife. Then Mrs. Kennedy turned away. She reached out and took the hand of her brother-in-law, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy — a hand she held often during the day — and went back to the White House for the diplomatic reception. Today happened to be the third birthday of her son, John Jr., called “John-John” by his father. John and his sister, Caroline, who will be 6 years old on Wednesday, were at the cathedral for the funeral service but were spared the ceremony at the cemetery. As the children left the cathedral after the service, John saw the honor guard of nine servicemen carry the flag-covered coffin of his father to the caisson that would bear it to Arlington. He looked up at his mother. She whispered to him. Then he handed her a prayer book he was carrying, and his small right hand suddenly shot up in a salute. Across the street, reporters and cameramen who were with the President when John was born and who have seen him scampering about his father’s office and in and out of the helicopters he loved to ride in, wept openly. The children were taken back to the White House by their nurse, Miss Maud Shaw, and some Secret Service men.

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