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In a Divided America, JFK Jr. Missed as Beacon of Political ‘Civility and Decency’

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Portrait Of John F Kennedy Jr As the son of one of America’s most beloved presidents, John F. Kennedy Jr. grew up surrounded by Democratic politics. And yet those close to him say he took great care to forge relationships with — and highlight — those on both sides of the political aisle.

As the 23rd anniversary of his tragic death looms, those who knew the late son of President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis say he is especially missed during the current era of fierce political discord in America.

“In many ways, John reminds of things we don’t have anymore,” Steven M. Gillon, historian and author of the biography America’s Reluctant Prince , tells PEOPLE. “He stood for civility and decency. Even today, during a time of intense polarization, his memory transcends partisanship.”

“He remains our American prince,” Gillon continues, “embraced by both the left and right, remembered for his kindness and his respect for all different points of view. Since his death, there has been no one who has filled that hole in our public life.”

RoseMarie Terenzio, who served as John’s executive assistant from 1994 until his death in 1999 and authored the book Fairy Tale […]

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