Obama, Clinton to mark 50th anniversary of JFK assassination

Posted by Lesley Clark on November 18, 2013 

President Barack Obama will visit John F. Kennedy's gravesite and honor two of the late president's legacies this week as the U.S. marks the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's death in Dallas.

The president and first lady Michelle Obama will accompany former President Bill Clinton and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton at a wreath-laying ceremony at Kennedy's grave site in Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday, the Associated Press first reported.

At the White House that day, Obama will bestow the Presidential Medal of Honor and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the executive order signed by Kennedy that established the medal -- the highest award the U.S. bestows on civilians.

Kennedy was killed two weeks before he planned to honor the inaugural group of recipients, and it fell to President Lyndon Johnson to preside over the ceremony at the White House on the day Kennedy's family was moving out.

Since then more than 500 "exceptional individuals from all corners of society" have been awarded the medal, the White House said.

Obama also plans a speech on Kennedy's legacy of service with a dinner at the Smithsonian American History Museum with current and past recipients of the medal in attendance, including baseball's Hank Aaron, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, singer Aretha Franklin, economist Alan Greenspan, activist Jesse Jackson and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

On Friday -- 50 years to the day Kennedy was assassinated -- Obama is to meet privately at the White House with leaders and volunteers from the Peace Corps, which Kennedy established in 1961.

Among those being honored by Obama with the medal: the former Chicago Cubs player Ernie Banks, known as "Mr. Cub," ; former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee; former president Clinton; the late Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii; Daniel Kahneman, a Princeton University scholar of psychology; former Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar; country music star Loretta Lynn; chemist and environmental scientist Mario Molina; the late astronaut Sally Ride; the late civil rights leader Bayard Rustin: jazz trumpeter, pianist, and compose Arturo Sandoval; former University of North Carolina basketball head coach Dean Smith; writer and activisit Gloria Steinem; civil rights leader Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian; Patricia Wald, the first woman appointed to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia; and Oprah Winfrey.

Secretary of State John Kerry told Parade magazine this week that he had "serious doubts" that gunman Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing Kennedy, but the White House wouldn't say Monday where Obama falls on the conspiracy theory.

"I haven't had a discussion with the president about Kennedy's assassination -- President Kennedy's assassination," Press Secretary Jay Carney said. He said he's also not talked with Obama about whether classified files that have not yet been released in the case should be released.

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