Excerpt: Letters to Jackie

Cover image of "Letters to Jackie."
Cover image of "Letters to Jackie."

When John F. Kennedy was assasinated, Americans began sending in droves of letters to his widow, Jacqueline Kennedy.  Within two years, she had received 1.5 million letters of condolence.  Historian Ellen Fitzpatrick combed through the correspondences and selected about 250 of them to include in her new book, "Letters to Jackie."

The below letters are a sample of some of the sentiments expressed after the death of J.F.K.


Monroe Young, Jr. sent a letter to Jacqueline Kennedy after JFK's death. (Courtesy HarperCollins)
Monroe Young, Jr. sent a letter to Jacqueline Kennedy after JFK's death. (Courtesy HarperCollins)

St. Louis County
Nov 28/1963
Mrs. J Kennedy and her two Sweet Children

Dear Sis
This is a Letter with Grief and Sory From My Bottom of My Heart and Sympathy to you Mrs J Kennedy and Children and the Grief and Sorry for Your Dear Husband Es [Ex] Presedent Mr John Kennedy That Shall Never Be Fargotton By Anbody are the Whole World as the Spirit of All American People of the United States of Amerca

The Spirit That God Gave Es [Ex] Present Mr. John Kennedy of the United States of Amerca. He whas Loved For His Truthful Speres to The Whole World and He tried To Be Friendly to Everdody Poor Peopel to Rich Peopel and Foes and Enemies and He Spoke the Truth from His Bottom of His heat. and He Never Be forgoton By the Whole World.
God Have Mercy on him. . .

I am Happy to write a few lines. I Hope this Letter will Give and your Children a Spirit and We Loved You All God Bless you and the Boy and Girl The world Knows and Sees How You Happy Children acted all through the Performent—What Touges the People Heart—When You Mrs Kennedy and Kneeling at the Coffin of your Husband Mr J Kennedy and your Daughter Kneeling at your side. I notice and the World Sees Your Daughter Touges with Her Gentle Hand the United States of Amerca Flag that Show that She She Loved Her Farther and Bid Him Goodby, and the Boy How He acted Like a Little Man Mrs Jacklin Kennedy and Your Children I Hope you all Be Happy Good Health and Good Luck. And there Is one that We Never Fargit By the World the one We Loved So Well. With His True Stories that Has toughes the Whole World Mr Es [Ex] Preseden John Kennedy. We Clased the Letter with the Best of Love to Mr Jacklin Kennedy and Her two Sweet Children. God Bless You All

We Closed this Letter With Love and Good Spirichal to Mrs J Kennedy and Children—Mrs J Kennedy I thank you for the Letter I got about 6 month ago When I wrote to you. God Bless you all
Yours Rests
Fred Buerman
and My Daughter
Mrs Gertude Guidry
And My two Great Great Children
My two Great Great Grand Daughters
there names are Mis Debby N. Krambecht
and Mis Cheryl M. Krambecht
Excuse for Writing theis
My name is Fred Buerman
I am 92 Years old. Had My Legs take off
10 years ago
I Writing In a Wheel Chair
I Was Born Sept 25/1871
God Bless all of You


December 20, 1 9 6 3

Dear Mrs. Kennedy,
My deepest sympathy on the tragic loss of your husband. If I could take away the sorrow and pain, I would, but I can only share it.

On April 25, 1963 I received a letter from your husband expressing his sympathy on the loss of my husband, an officer aboard the U.S.S. Thresher, which sank April 10, 1963.

May I quote a few lines from that letter, as I am sure you will find consolation from his words. “It is a sad fact of history that this price of freedom must be paid again and again, by our best young men in each generation. Your husband has joined the other defenders of this Nation who have given their lives for their country.”—My dear Mrs. Kennedy, this truly is your husband.

I pray for you Mrs. Kennedy, and our husbands, and Mrs. Kennedy, when you are very much alone with only your thoughts, please, please think of us, the wives the Thresher left behind. Our hands reach out for yours in those moments of darkness.

Death is incomprehensible, a mystery, and a Divine one at that, not to be understood, only to be accepted.

Most sincerely,
Mrs. John J. Wiley

Editor ’s Note : A nuclear powered submarine, the USS Thresher was lost at sea off the coast of Cape Cod on April 10, 1963. The entire crew of 129 died in the accident.


November 23, 1963
Pinehurst, NC

To The J. F. K. family.

Dear beloved one I know you are some what suprized shocked with the Last + Griefed to what What happen to such a great man husband father an Son an Father of our country—but in this Sadist moment of your Life you have my greatest symphy for every one an I know you are suprized to know I am a Negro woman but as I set here an try en put in to words my feeling I hope you Will feel a spot in your heart for me. This marning God spoke to me it said P. J. F. K. did for his Country what God did for his world they Killed our Lord an Father. An now they have Killed our Presentend an Father. We loved him but God loved him best. I feel our Lost is heaven gain how greater man is this to give up his life for his friends. Please dont say he is dead Lest say he is at the waiting room Wating for God to say you have been ruler over a Few things but now you are ruler over many

When his daughter & Son walks through life People will Look on them an say there goes a great girl & boy and a sweet beloved wife but I Feel our Lost is heaven gain.

Please dry your tears dear ones an say I beloved one is heaven gain he isnt dead he is Just sleeping in heaven. I want to meet p. J. F. K. in that great day an help him sing

They Will be peace in the Valley[.] for me I am Praying for the family

Please tell the children to be Sweet an O Bey their mother an Father is waiting to welcome them home

your truly
Katherine Dowd Jackson
A Negro woman with a Big White heart
P.S. I wont [to] wish Presentend Johnson a happy suscess in the Predensence Field I am Praying evry thing will work out fine Thank You may God Bless an Keep him from harm

From “Letters to Jackie: Condolences from a Grieving Nation” by Ellen Fitzpatrick. Copyright 2010 Ellen Fitzpatrick. Reprinted by permission, HarperCollins. All Rights Reserved.


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