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Prayers on 23rd Anniversary : Kennedys, Others Mark Day President Was Slain

November 23, 1986|From Times Wire Services

WASHINGTON — Members of the Kennedy family quietly marked the 23rd anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination with visits to his grave in Arlington National Cemetery and a solemn ceremony at the family home Saturday.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) visited the cemetery alone in the morning. He stopped at the graves of both his assassinated brothers, John and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. Robert would have been 61 last Thursday.

Later, the family planned to gather at the Hyannis Port, Mass., home of matriarch Rose Kennedy for a private service, said Jim Wieghart, Kennedy's spokesman.

The kind of ceremony the family had would depend on the health of Rose Kennedy, who is 96 and "quite frail," Wieghart said.

Senator Visits Graves

Kennedy stood in front of John's tombstone, crossed himself and placed a green sprig near the eternal flame that marks the President's grave.

He silently read an inscription on the back of the tombstone, then repeated the rite at Robert's grave. Later, he flew to Hyannis Port to join the family, Wieghart said.

Evelyn Lincoln, John Kennedy's White House secretary, also laid a bouquet of flowers at the grave Saturday.

Lee Harvey Oswald shot John Kennedy in the head and neck with two rifle bullets fired from a sixth-floor window of the Texas School Book Depository on Nov. 22, 1963, as the President's motorcade passed through Dallas.

In Dallas, about 100 people turned out Saturday along the route taken by Kennedy 23 years ago, although the city has not had an organized commemoration of the slaying in several years.

At 12:30 p.m., the approximate time of day of the shooting, one group of people among those lining the 1963 parade route clasped hands and bowed their heads. Others stood nearby in silence.

Some stopped at the Kennedy memorial downtown, but most gathered at the Texas School Book Depository and at Dealey Plaza, the scene of the shooting.

Two pink bows and several silk flowers decorated the lawn flanking the street Kennedy's motorcade had traveled. An arrangement of yellow and white, plastic flowers, labeled from "A Witness," also marked the site. Pink ribbons were tied around green lamp posts along the route.

"It's still overwhelming after all these years, after 23 years have passed," said Debra Johnson, a student of Lamar University in Beaumont.

Jenny Dahn and Patty Hying of Madison, Wis., said they had expected to see a more organized ceremony.

"It seems like they're overlooking the importance of it," Dahn said.

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