Mr. President as the nation mourned, and continues to mourn, the death of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, many of us have tried, in private and public reflections, to define and explain her enduring place in our common history and our shared consciousness. It is a difficult, if not impossible, task, as it always is when we try to put into words the meaning of a life that has touched our very spirit and left us forever changed. It never was the ambition of the woman we knew, and will always remember, as "Jackie" to have the kind of fundamental public influence. It was a part of her style that she did not cherish celebrity, a part of her grace that she did not succumb to its temptations, and a part of her dignity that she did not surrender to fame, but sought -- in the end, it seemed, successfully -- to make peace with it on her own terms. Certainly, Mrs. Onassis did seek throughout her adult life to make public contributions, and did so successfully and every meaningfully. The legacy of her passion for the arts, for history and for the beauty of the landmarks and places of refuge she cherished so deeply, is very tangible and valuable, and cause enough for our lasting respect and gratitude. Yet there is more than we remember. We remember that at the age of just 31, then-Jacqueline Kennedy seemed the living expression of the inspiration so many of us felt on that cold January day in 1961. When "the torch [was] passed to a new generation of Americans," it quickly seemed to us that Jackie was among the most worthy to receive it, that she represented part of what was best in us, part of what we aspired to be. We were, simply, fascinated by her. Initially, it may have been the glamour, the elegance in appearance and manner that President and Mrs. Kennedy introduced over the still- young medium of television, which fascinated us in itself. But there was something deeper in the images. The couple in the White House looked like a promise, like the embodiment of hope as well as of style. As time passed in all its fateful twists, our admiration for Jackie grew deeper. We came to know and respect her devotion to her children, her complete and uncompromising commitment to them, and her growing pride in their achievements and their characters. We learned about the seriousness and sincerity of all her passions, and about her determination to remain true to them -- despite criticism, despite challenges, despite losses that would have cracked a less noble heart. It was in times of loss, and especially during those wrenching days of November 1963, that Jackie touched this nation's spirit most profoundly. She was 34 years old, with two very young children, when President Kennedy was killed. She must have felt the eyes and the weight of the world on her, added to her personal and family grief, her justified anxiety about her children's future, and what must have been a rage almost as great as her sadness. What she did was remarkable. She carried this Nation to the Capitol Rotunda, along the route of the funeral procession and for days and weeks afterward, with a strength at once incomprehensible and undeniable. Again, now in the darkest as before in the brightest hour, she seemed the embodiment of hope -- hope that the unendurable could be endured, that the future still mattered and demanded our attention, that dreams were still possible. That may have been the greatest gift that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis gave to this country, an enduring sense of hope. She gave it to us not through conscious effort, but as a natural result of her transcendent grace and dignity. And it is right that we should honor her for it, now and always.