Famous Historical Letters: Condolence Letters to Jackie Kennedy
When John F. Kennedy was shot on November 22, 1963, Jacqueline Kennedy was covered in the blood of her husband. When they brought her husband’s body to the White House, she was still wearing the same stained suit. A former Peace Corps press officer remembers her as being shocked before finally giving in to the pain and the grief.
Her mourning was real and it was felt deeply long after they laid JFK’s body to rest. Throughout this troubled time, famous people would send their regards. Several of these notes would reference other tragic deaths around the same time. We look at these historical letters and what they say about both the wife of the President and a country that had experienced such tremendous loss.
Martin Luther King Jr.
In his historical letter, the preacher would ask for God to give Jackie and her family the strength and the courage to fight through the darkness. He praised JFK for his dedication to peace and justice and commended the large imprint he left on the public in such a short amount of time.
Jazz legend Ellington acknowledged that what the world was going through was not the same as what she was going through. However, he did say that anyone who believed in JFK would feel the tragedy for some time to come. He called her husband a ‘great man’.
Medgar Evers’ Wife
Civil rights leader Medgar Evers was assassinated in June 1963, and his wife, Myrlie, may have been one of the few who could have understood Jackie’s complex feelings at the time. She says that she knows how little words could mean at this time, but that she ultimately could empathise with the sorrow and the pain she was feeling.
Soviet leader Khrushchev wrote his condolences in Russian. This historical letter was one of immense respect for a fellow leader, and of the fond memories that Khrushchev had of meeting with JFK. He said that all those who knew JFK respected his passion and commitment.
One of the most famous actors in the world found time to reach out to Jackie. Calling her Mrs. John F Kennedy, he said that his prayers and thoughts were with her and her children.
Of all the historical letters sent, Gandhi’s was the longest. He pointed out that while he was impressed with the courage of her husband, what he liked best about him was the warmth of his personality. He praised the first lady’s ability to bear the events with grace and dignity.
J.D. Tippit’s Wife
Unfortunately, J.D. Tippit has become something of a footnote in history, but at the time, he was famous for being shot after questioning Lee Harvey Oswald about JFK’s death. Like Evers’ wife, Marie Tippit drew upon her own grief to find the right words to Jackie.
Ezra Pound’s letter was short and sweet. He offered his heartfelt condolences and mourned the loss of a great man and a great President.
This historical letter draws on the connection that Douglas MacArthur felt about losing a fellow comrade in arms. He wrote that the death of the President ‘kills something within me.’ At a time when the civilised world was all in mourning, it was an expression of sincere grief from the General.
Those who wrote words of love to the President’s wife received a simple letter of appreciation, but the sincere words from everyone in these historical letters was undoubtedly some comfort to the widow and her family.