JFK Gravesite To Receive Visit From Obamas, Clintons

JFK’s gravesite will receive a visit from President and Mrs. Obama, as well as former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton at Arlington National Cemetery.

On Wednesday the current and former Presidents will lay a wreath at the tomb and honor two of Kennedy’s initiatives which are part of his indelible legacy.

President Obama will be joined by the many Americans who have received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, instituted by JFK and will pay tribute to the slain President.

The honor was established by John Kennedy just months prior to his death and is the highest honor a civilian can receive.

Ironically, JFK was to award the medal to the first group of citizens selected to receive it, but he was assassinated in Dallas on November 22.

The ceremony, presided by newly installed President Lyndon Johnson, took place at the White House on the day Jacqueline Kennedy and her children were moving out.

More than 500 American citizens have received the medal since it was instituted.

Some of the honorees who will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013 include former President Bill Clinton, television personality Oprah Winfrey, late astronaut Sally Ride, civil rights activist Gloria Steinem, baseball Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, country music singer Loretta Lynn, and 10 others.

Several celebrities will attend an evening gala, during which Obama will speak about JFK’s legacy of service, at the Smithsonian American History Museum. The list of names also includes the likes of former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, baseball legend Hank Aaron, singer Aretha Franklin, and many others.

Jack Schlossberg, Kennedy’s grandson will introduce President Obama. Other members of the Kennedy clan will also be present for the ceremony including Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, daughter of Robert Kennedy and Jean Kennedy Smith, the last surviving sibling of JFK.

President Obama will meet privately with Peace Corps volunteers, an organization created by President Kennedy.

In February of 1963, Kennedy signed an executive order making the bestowing of the Medal of Freedom a Presidential privilege.

Those honored that year included those contributing to world peace, culture, the arts, sports, and other public and private causes.

JFK announced the 31 original recipients of the Medal on July 4, 1963. The design of the medal was finalized by fall and the ceremony was planned for December 6.

Kennedy was never able to honor the recipients since he was assassinated on November 22. On the 21st, JFK’s special assistant requested the Marine String Orchestra play at the awards reception, according to information provided by the White House.

President Johnson decided to keep the ceremony and honored the late President Kennedy, as well as Pope John XXIII, who had also recently passed away, as posthumous recipients.

Johnson had suggested that Mrs. Kennedy receive the honor as well, but she declined and watched the ceremony from another room as Robert Kennedy, JFK’s brother, accepted the medal on her behalf.

Later that afternoon, the Kennedy family moved out of the White House.

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