Eternal Flame grave of President John F. Kennedy Arlington National Cemetery         photo by Jacqueline Bennett

Eternal Flame -grave of President John F. Kennedy Arlington National Cemetery
photo by Jacqueline Bennett

By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb

In the days leading up to this, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, there has been much historical and individual reflection about President Kennedy, his presidency and the legacy of both. The nation has remembered a handsome, young president with an engaging Boston accent and grand ideals. As well, there has been a great deal of reflection about the graciousness of the woman he chose for his wife, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy – later following her remarriage, Onassis. Documentaries have shown Mrs. Kennedy’s style brought elegance to the White House, and enormous dignity in the way she handled the national tragedy of her husband’s assassination.

According to historians, she had a prominent role in planning President Kennedy’s funeral which is said to have been based on Abraham Lincoln’s. On foot, she led her husband’s funeral procession and lit an “eternal flame” created at her request, which is placed at the grave.

After her passing in 1994, as a reporter covering the town of Farmington, Connecticut, I attended a memorial for Jackie Kennedy at Miss Porter’s School, an all-girls, private secondary school and her Alma Mater. There on display, I came upon a handwritten essay of hers in which she delineated her beliefs about personal responsibility and devotion to the concept of duty. I was struck by her eloquence and the fact that, the well-documented manner in which she conducted herself as First Lady and in the face of President Kennedy’s death, had been a foundation of her character at a young age.