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President Kennedy’s Children Informed of Father’s Death

Nov. 23, 1963 - President Kennedy’s two children were told last night that their father was dead. It was not known who had told them or what words had been used. Almost certainly it was not their mother. Mrs. Kennedy stayed close to her husband from the moment he was shot by an assassin until his body was returned to the White House before dawn today. She spent most of the night at Bethesda Naval Hospital, where the slain President was first taken from nearby Andrews Air Force Base. She rode in the ambulance with the body and remained at the hospital from 7 o’clock last night until 4 a.m. today. By the time she arrived at the White House at 4:25 a.m., the children had long been asleep. White House press secretary Pierre Salinger said that by that time John Jr. and Caroline already knew their father was dead. “They were told last night,” he said at a briefing today. “I don’t know who told them. I can’t say whether any relatives are staying with the children.” John Jr., nicknamed “John-John” by his father, will be 3 years old Monday, the day of his father’s funeral. Caroline’s sixth birthday will be Wednesday. This morning, the grief-stricken mother took both children to a private mass in the East Room.


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