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President Kennedy Sends Messages to Dead Veterans’ Families

Feb. 18, 1963 - For almost a year, President Kennedy has been sending printed certificates bearing the gold seal of the United States and a message over his signature to widows or next of kin of U.S. war veterans who die. The certificates, which are mailed by the Veterans Administration in envelopes with the White House as a return address, are imprinted in script with the following: “The United States of America honors the memory of [deceased veteran’s name]. This certificate is awarded by a grateful nation in recognition of devoted and selfless consecration to the service of our country in the armed forces of the United States.” President Kennedy personally composed the wording for the certificate. Since the first was sent, the Veteran Administration has mailed 146,000 of them for the President. A V.A. spokesman said there are now approximately 22 million war veterans in the U.S., and they are dying at the rate of almost 5,000 a month. “The certificate is just another service we do quietly,” he said.


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