National Geographic : 1964 Mar
The Last Full Measure Christmas-time and had invited the children to three parties at the White House. Now their chief concern was for the widow. "Will Mrs. Kennedy be able to get a job?" they asked, knowing well the harsh realities that had wrecked their own home lives. They had sent Mrs. Kennedy a telegram: "We loved him as we do you." Now Mrs. Kennedy sent the children some of the flowers from the funeral. Flame to Light the World Thousands stood through the rest of the night awaiting their turn to pass before the flickering flame in Arlington. Jacqueline Kennedy came again that night and placed a spray of lilies-of-the-valley on her husband's grave. Returning to the White House, she crossed the Potomac into Washington just as the clocks of the Capital struck midnight. So ended that heart-aching weekend. Those days and nights had brought to the American ROBERT Thousands climb to the grave in Arlington National Cemetery, their line winding among the stones of a silent host. Mourners pass below the Custis-Lee Mansion, onetime home of Confederate General Rob ert E. Lee. In the month following President Kennedy's death, an estimated 700,000 people visited his tomb. President's seal in chrysanthe mums stands behind the eternal flame. An unidentified visitor hung a rosary on the wreath. Boys pass by with grave faces. William Att wood, who served under President Kennedy as Ambassador to Guin ea, wrote of a similarly affected youngster-his 11-year-old daugh ter. "She was crying that terrible weekend because her friend was dead.... I think a lot of Americans, like my daughter, feel they have lost a friend. They have." people a Gethsemane of the spirit which time has assuaged but not erased. Our youngest President is gone. In Lin coln's phrase at Gettysburg 100 years ago that very month, he gave "the last full meas ure of devotion." But the deeds, the words, the example of the man remain-and there will always be the flame to remind us. What more appropriate than a flame? John F. Kennedy, in his Inaugural Address, had spoken of fire: "In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsi bility; I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it, and the glow from that fire can truly light the world." 355 Reprints of this tribute to Presi dent Kennedy in a color cover are available to members of the Society at 50 cents each. Address: Dept. 166, National Geographic Society, Washington, D. C. 20036.