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Remarks on the Death of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

May 20, 1994

On this sad occasion, Hillary and I join our Nation in mourning the loss of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Jackie Kennedy Onassis was a model of courage and dignity for all Americans and all the world.

More than any other woman of her time, she captivated our Nation and the world with her intelligence, her elegance, and her grace. Even in the face of impossible tragedy, she carried the grief of her family and our entire Nation with a calm power that somehow reassured all the rest of us.

As First Lady, Mrs. Onassis had an uncommon appreciation of the culture that awakened us to all the beauty of our own heritage. She loved art and music, poetry and books, history and architecture, and all matters that enrich the human spirit. She was equally passionate about improving the human condition. She abhorred discrimination of all kinds. And through small, quiet gestures, she stirred the Nation's conscience. She was the first First Lady to hire a mentally retarded employee here at the White House. And she made certain for the first time that minority children were all welcome in the White House nursery.

She and President Kennedy embodied such vitality, such optimism, such pride in our Nation, they inspired an entire generation of young Americans to see the nobility of helping others and to get involved in public service.

When I became President, I was fortunate enough to get to know Mrs. Onassis better, and to see her and her children as friends as well as important American history models and good citizens. I can say that, as much as anything else today, I am grateful for her incredible generosity to Hillary and to Chelsea, the way she shared her thoughts on everything from how to raise children in the White House to ideas about historic preservation, to her favorite current books.

We hope that Mrs. Onassis' children, John and Caroline, and her grandchildren find solace in the extraordinary contribution she made to our country. Our thoughts and prayers are with her children and grandchildren and her entire family as we grieve over the passing of a cherished friend.

NOTE: The President spoke at 7:39 a.m. in the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden at the White House.

William J. Clinton, Remarks on the Death of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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