President Obama honored John F. Kennedy with a ceremonial wreath laying at Arlington National Cemetery, two days shy of the 50th anniversary of the late president’s assassination.
Obama was joined by the first lady, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary Hillary Clinton at the ceremony, held at the the eternal flame that marks Kennedy’s grave. Some incarnation of that flame has burned continuously since 1963. Members of the Kennedy family attended as well, including Ethel Kennedy who walked hand in hand with the president as they approached her brother-in-law’s grave.
The ceremony came shortly after Obama honored dignataries including Oprah, Gloria Steinem, and Loretta Lynn with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civillian honor, which was both given and received (posthumously) by Kennedy. Kennedy is also credited with “establishing the modern legacy” of the medal. He had planned to honor an inaugural group of recipients before his 1963 assassination, but was killed before he could carry out the ceremony.
“This is one of my favorite events every year, especially special this year, as I look at this extraordinary group of individuals and our opportunity to honor them with our nation’s highest civilian honor – the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” Obama said during his remarks at the event. “And this year, it’s just a little more special because this marks the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy establishing this award.”