WASHINGTON—Former president John F. Kennedy made a rare appearance at the 33rd annual Kennedy Center Honors, which celebrated the long-standing cultural contributions of Oprah Winfrey and Paul McCartney, as well as composer Jerry Herman, country music legend Merle Haggard, and Tony Award–winning choreographer Bill T. Jones. "It is a great privilege to receive this honor in front of such a distinguished group," said Jones, gesturing toward President Obama, Ms. Winfrey, and the nation's 35th president. "This is such a thrill." Kennedy, 93, was last seen in public in 1994 at the funeral of his wife, Jacqueline.