- Many in Boston took time Friday to remember John F. Kennedy, whose legacy looms large in the city.
More than twice as many people as usual had visited the JFK Library and Museum by mid-day.
They saw an exhibit of never-before-displayed artifacts from Kennedy's state funeral, including the flag that draped his casket and the saddle, boots and sword carried by the riderless horse that walked in the funeral procession. They also saw notes from First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy as she made plans for her husband's funeral. A moving musical tribute that included James Taylor was held at 1:30 p.m.
Boxes of tissues were placed around the museum and some visitors wept as they watched video footage of the funeral. Among them was Hilary Hopkins, 75, of Cambridge, who remembered being glued to the funeral as a 25-year-old and marveling at Jackie Kennedy's composure and nobility.
Hopkins has been a regular visitor to the museum, including to pay her respects when Sen. Ted Kennedy died. She also has brought her children and grandchildren.
"In a sense, this place today is where I want to bear witness to a country that's good in spite of the bad things that happen," she said. "He was one of us in Massachusetts. ... To be here today is a natural thing for me."
John Alksnis, 68, and Laurel Alksnis, 67, of Guilford, N.Y., brought their son, who lives in California. Both were inspired by Kennedy to join the Marines, were they met in a computer room in Hawaii.
"We have not had a world leader or a national leader of his like," Laurel Alksnis said. "It was never about his 163 days in the presidency. It was that he instilled young people, inspired young people. It wasn't his personal life. He was just a great man, a very great man."
At the Massachusetts Statehouse, a steady rain fell as Gov. Deval Patrick, accompanied by Major Gen. Scott Rice of the Massachusetts National Guard, stood at attention during a somber wreath laying ceremony at the John F. Kennedy statue on the front lawn of the Statehouse. No words were spoken during the ceremony, and the U.S. and Massachusetts flags in the front of the historic building were lowered to half-staff.
The statue, dedicated in 1990, has been largely off limits to public viewing since security procedures that took effect at the capitol after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But the state opened the area to visitors on Friday.
The bronze sculpture depicts a confident JFK striding forward.
Both of Kennedy's grandfathers served in the Massachusetts Legislature, and in January 1961 the president-elect came to the Statehouse to deliver one of his most famous addresses, which came to be known as the "City on a Hill" speech, just before leaving for his inauguration in Washington.