1st anniversary of JFK Jr.'s death expected to pass quietly No tribute set for crash victims


Saturday, July 15th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


BOSTON – The driftwood memorial has long since disappeared from the beach where wreckage from John F. Kennedy Jr.'s plane washed ashore. And most of the questions about why the Piper Saratoga crashed off Martha's Vineyard a year ago – killing him, his wife and her sister – have been answered.

Family and friends plan no public tribute to mark the first anniversary of their July 16, 1999, deaths, and police on Martha's Vineyard say they don't expect a throng of the Kennedy-curious to gather in remembrance.

In fact, perhaps the only sign that a year has passed is the media bonanza accompanying the anniversary.

The handsome face of the president's son graces at least a half-dozen magazine and tabloid covers this week, and books have hit store shelves to coincide with the anniversary. Kennedy chroniclers also are sharing their insights on the morning news show circuit.

Though some publishers were initially reluctant to commission books on Mr. Kennedy after he died, for fear of a negative backlash, there are now at least five books out on his life, with two more in the works.

Christopher Anderson, author of The Day John Died, a book released this week, said America is captivated by Mr. Kennedy because of a powerful collective memory of the death of his father 36 years earlier.

"The salute – the salute says it all," Mr. Anderson said, referring to the gesture the young Kennedy gave to his father's casket at the president's funeral in 1963. "The most heartbreaking moment in modern political times was the moment he gave that salute."

Mr. Anderson also writes that Mr. Kennedy's mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, in the latter years of her life, had a recurring premonition her son would be killed piloting his own plane.

Mr. Kennedy, 38, died with his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, 33, and her 34-year-old sister, Lauren Bessette. They were en route from New Jersey to the wedding of his cousin when Mr. Kennedy apparently became disoriented and plunged the plane into the ocean, according to federal investigators.

The Bessette family said in a statement that it did not plan to mark the day with a service.

"The loss of these three young people whom we loved so much has forever altered our lives," the statement read. "We continue to struggle with our grief, and we choose to maintain what is left of our privacy."

Likewise, the Kennedys – perhaps the most public of American families – said they would keep their activities of the day private.

"The day will be one of prayer and reflection for members of the Kennedy family," said Melody Miller, a spokeswoman for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., John Kennedy Jr.'s uncle. The senator was expected to spend the weekend at his home in Hyannis Port.