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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 20, 1994
                       REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                           AND MRS. CLINTON
                              South Lawn   

7:39 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: 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.

Q Will you be going to the funeral?

THE PRESIDENT: I'd like for Hillary to say a word.

MRS. CLINTON: I just wanted to say, personally, that every day, this nation owes a great debt to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. And the nation has lost a treasure, and our family has lost a dear friend.

We stand here in one of the many legacies that she has given to this house and to our country; in this garden, which is named for her, which she helped to realize.

If she taught us anything, it was to know the meaning of responsibility -- to one's family and to one's community. Her great gift of grace and style and dignity and heroism is an example that will live through the ages.

As a mother, she was selflessly devoted to her children and never wavered in the value she placed on being a mother, and more recently a grandmother. She once explained the importance of spending time with family and said: "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters very much." She was a great support to me, personally, when I started talking with her in the summer of 1992 about the challenges and opportunities of being in this position, and how she had managed so well to carve out the space and privacy that children need to grow into what they have a right to become.

She will always be more than a great First Lady; she was a great woman and a great friend. And all of us will miss her very much.

Q Mr. President, will you be going to the funeral?

END 7:43 A.M. EDT