Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: Burial to take place tomorrow

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The Independent Online
NEW YORK - No final resting place for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis more befits the national mood than Arlington Cemetery, burial ground of presidents and generals and of foot soldiers who died in the service of their country, writes Peter Pringle. She will be buried there tomorrow, alongside her first husband. She is America's latest heroine.

Presidents and janitors, young and old joined in a national outpouring of tributes to 'Jackie', who died aged 64 as she had lived her life - with courage, dignity and privacy, in her 5th Avenue apartment surrounded by her family, friends and books.

The death of the nation's once most famous public woman, who had been admired from a distance for so long by so many, was a reminder of the United States' insatiable craving for a national icon.

'Go with God', read a scrawled note among bouquets of spring flowers at the front door of 1040 5th Avenue, which faces Jackie Onassis's beloved Central Park. Only a week ago, she had taken her last walk there, accompanied by her long-time companion, diamond mogul and financier Maurice Tempelsman, her daughter Caroline and her son John.

Television and radio stations turned entire shows over to her life. Commentators, who had reported her tragedies live, recalled them with tears in their eyes, and the New York Post's front page, seldom tasteful but often a barometer of the national mood, was black except for one word: Jackie.

Americans too young to remember her tragedies - the loss of two children, the assassination of first her husband, then of her brother-in-law - were touched by her last battle against lymphatic cancer.

After a private mass here tomorrow, her body will be flown to Washington where she will be buried beside president Kennedy in Arlington cemetery. Protocol allows this only because Onassis is dead.

Tourists gathered there this weekend, taking pictures of the eternal flame that Jackie Kennedy requested 30 years ago for her husband's grave. Red carnations lay there, and a white one on the gravestone of the Kennedys' son, Patrick, who died three days after his premature birth in August 1963. A daughter, still-born in 1956, is buried next to her father.