Sunday, December 8, 2013

Dear Mrs. Kennedy

Eight hundred thousand-that’s roughly the number of condolence letters former first lady Jackie Kennedy amassed in the two months following her husband’s murder. By the two-year anniversary of his death, the quantity had swollen beyond 1.5 million. Incapable of responding to every communication personally, Jackie made certain each was nevertheless granted acknowledgement.

This commendable, yet time-consuming undertaking was performed by White House employees and numerous volunteer groups from around the country. Each response was addressed by hand in black ink. These recognition cards, emblazoned with the Kennedy’s crest, said:

Mrs. Kennedy is deeply appreciative of your sympathy and grateful for your thoughtfulness.

Though time marched on, messages for Jackie continued to pour-in, chiefly enquiring about the family’s health. There were various pre-typed responses well-wishers could receive, and each dispatch included a recognition card similar to those mailed following JFK’s assassination. Some years ago, my friend Susan gifted me one of these cards. It reads:

Mrs. Kennedy is most grateful to you for remembering her and her family and deeply regrets not being able to personally respond to all those who have been so thoughtful.

Given that we just commemorated 50 years since President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, it’s remarkable to comprehend that I possess a token from this part of history.

To read more about these letters to Jackie, check-out:

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