He surely collected himself, soothing her eyes with his. He spoke softly and assuredly, somehow making slightly bearable the incomprehensible news that her brother had been shot.
They left the restaurant and headed to the Peace Corps building, where a wire flash announced that Jack had died. Mom and Dad and a few Peace Corps staffers knelt and prayed in Dad’s office. More reports poured in, confirming the news. Dad called a quick staff meeting and decided to send a wire to Peace Corps staff around the world, informing them of what had happened and reassuring them that the Peace Corps would continue its work.
Dad asked his assistant, Mary Ann Orlando, to take Timmy and gather my other future siblings together at our home in Rockville, while Mom and he went to the White House. There they met with both Uncle Bobby and Uncle Teddy and decided that Mom and Teddy would go to Massachusetts to be with their mother and father, and Bobby would go to Andrews Air Force Base, in Maryland, to meet the arrival of Air Force One. Dad was ostensibly in charge at the White House.
Hours later, Jackie Kennedy sent word that she wanted Dad to lead the planning of the funeral.
Soon after that, he learned that the mutual disdain between Bobby and the new president, Lyndon Johnson, threatened the smoothness of the transition and the basic functioning of the government. And he, a soon-to-be father whose greatest preoccupation had been the health of his wife, was one of the few people who could bridge the gap and help the stunned country maintain its footing.
For the next few days he slept just an hour a night; he stopped working only to make his frequent calls to Mom to bolster her. He grasped the national craving for a funeral unlike any other—stately yet healing, official yet personal.
Were García Márquez telling the story, he would have shown how a steady father began to radiate his faith and hope and love to his unborn son, sparking my lifelong devotion to him.
Fiction aside, I firmly believe that Dad’s faith in God gave him the strength and the discipline to orchestrate the funeral events—at times grisly, at times heartbreaking, by turns wrapped in ambition, intrigue, chaos, pathos, and raw grief.
Jackie had requested that Uncle Jack lie in state in the East Room of the White House, as had President Lincoln, and that the room be made over to look as it had then. Dad immediately called upon Jack’s favorite artist, Bill Walton, to handle this assignment. Together they decided that to replicate exactly the appearance of the White House after President Lincoln’s death, as requested, was impossible because of the physical changes inside the building since then. They did, however, drape black crepe over much of the East Room. Since the White House had no exterior lighting, Dad worked through the night to arrange for hand-lit torches to line the driveway. At three-thirty on Saturday morning, the Washington highway department delivered the torches, creating a scene that was seared in the nation’s memory.
seemed to rise all around me as I was beginning my political involvement. They believed government had an essential part to play in expanding civil rights and reducing poverty and inequality.”
Bill Clinton's review of Robert Caro's new L.B.J. book, 'The Passage of Power'Read the Full Article