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8 Years After JFK Died, Jackie Took a Hush-Hush Trip to WH

Former first lady and her children received an emotional private tour by Pat Nixon
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2021 11:04 AM CST

(Newser) – Many people get nostalgic when they reminisce about their former homes; some even go back to visit years later. Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis was no exception, except she took her trip down memory lane in secret, with an under-wraps trip to the White House eight years after her first husband, President John F. Kennedy, was gunned down in Dallas. The Guardian reports on Jackie O's private visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue 50 years ago this month, during which the former first lady and her children, JFK Jr. and Caroline, then 10 and 13, received a quiet tour of their former home by then-first lady Pat Nixon and saw the official portraits of JFK and Jackie two days before they were officially unveiled. The reason for the under-the-radar visit? Onassis felt it would be too stressful for herself and the children to be under the spotlight if they attended the public unveiling in a place that held both good memories and painful ones.

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That's why Onassis wrote to Nixon before the Feb. 5, 1971, ceremony with a special request. "Could the children and I slip in unobtrusively to Washington, and come to pay our respects to you and to see the pictures privately?" she asked. Nixon obliged, not permitting any photos of the former first family as they walked through their home of yesteryear. Town and Country notes that only Nixon and her husband, President Richard Nixon; their two daughters; and a couple of White House staffers knew of the visit. Onassis penned a follow-up note to Pat Nixon afterward. "Thank you with all my heart," she wrote. "A day I dreaded turned out to be one of the most precious ones I have spent with my children." Per People, Rose Kennedy, JFK's mother, also thanked the first lady, writing: "Dear Mrs. Nixon, you brought joy to many who are near and dear to me, and I thank you from my heart." (Read more Jackie Kennedy Onassis stories.)

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