HYANNIS, Mass. (WPRI) — On Main Street in Hyannis, you will find everything ‘Kennedy’ and for the rest of the year, a special exhibit to the late John F. Kennedy Jr.
Tuesday marked the 20th anniversary of the tragic crash that took the life of “John-John,” his wife Carolyn Bessette and his sister-in-law Lauren Bessette.
Remembering the event still brings back raw emotion for Baltimore resident Stephanie Mills.
“I do remember. It makes me tear up,” Mills said Tuesday.
Mills said it was another tragedy for the family.
“You can’t believe it,” she said. “I was flying to Martha’s Vineyard from Boston. I was in the airport and there was news coverage everywhere.”
The family was en route to Martha’s Vineyard to drop Lauren off at an event before flying to Hyannis for Rory Kennedy’s wedding.
Ivy Kolb of Cumberland saw those iconic white tents that lined the Kennedy Compound only a day before the crash.
“We were on a ferry boat from Hyannis to Nantucket, and we had seen the compound with all the tents set up for the wedding, ” Kolb recalled.
“The very next day when we came back we heard [of the crash], and I will never forget it,” she added.
Kolb and her cousin Rena Kass spent part of their Tuesday exploring the exhibit dedicated to JFK Jr. and told Eyewitness News they consider the Cape a part of their upbringing.
“Our grandparents had lived here their whole lives,” Kass said. “My grandmother had marched in a parade honoring [President Kennedy’s mother] Rose Kennedy.”
The cousins both agreed the Kennedy family has made a lasting impact on them and the region.
“The Kennedys were so important, especially in public service,” Kass said. “I think we both try to instill that into our families.”
The pair went on to say the Kennedys instilled a sense of ‘do for others,’ ‘be involved,’ and ‘be leaders in your community.’
The emotion of that fateful day still lives on, even 20 years later.
Mills flew to Martha’s Vineyard the day of the crash and recalls the atmosphere on the island.
“Silent, awe, fear, it was awful,” she said.
All three agree it’s best not to forget the past, and we should continue to recognize the Kennedy family.