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JFK Museum releases condolence mail 50 years later

Museum Reveals Thousands Of Letters Consoling Jackie Kennedy

BOSTON (AP) - A series of condolence messages sent after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated 50 years ago was released Tuesday from the personal papers of his widow, including a letter from the mother of one of four girls killed in the bombing of a Baptist church in Alabama during the civil rights movement.

The mail released by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston comes from the personal papers of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The series contains approximately 22,000 letters, telegrams and cards from people around the world.

One of the letters was sent by Maxine McNair, the mother of Denise McNair, who was 11 when she was killed in the September 1963 Ku Klux Klan bombing of the 16th Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala. The bombing occurred as Birmingham's schools were being racially integrated for the first time and came to symbolize the depth of racial hatred in the South. The event was later seen as helping to spur the passage of civil rights laws.

In her letter, Maxine McNair likens her shock when she heard about the president's assassination with the shock she felt when her daughter was killed.

"When the tragic news came across the air waves, again my heart said, 'It isn't true, It didn't happen,'" Maxine McNair wrote to Mrs. Kennedy in the letter, sent five months after her daughter was killed.

She tells Mrs. Kennedy that she and her husband are praying for her and her children.

"Isn't it strange how people with so much to give to the world are taken? That's God's will however, and not for us to questions," she wrote.

Unlike the condolence mail in the library's John F. Kennedy papers, the newly released documents were managed by Mrs. Kennedy's personal secretaries because they required special handling or included requests for charity, Mass cards, photographs or other wishes.

Each piece includes an outgoing response from Mrs. Kennedy's office.

The collection also includes a photograph of a young boy named Kennedy in Nigeria holding a picture of the president and a letter form a French teacher describing memorial tributes made by her students.

A 10-year-old girl from Louisiana wrote Mrs. Kennedy and invited her to visit.

"I think your (sic) the nicest lady in the whole world," she wrote. "I mean it, too."

The collection is only accessible by visiting the library, and is not available online.

The personal papers of Mrs. Kennedy were donated to the library by Caroline Kennedy and John F. Kennedy Jr.

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Dennett January 15 2014 at 7:43 PM

No comment, except this video keeps playing, automatically, and it is driving me crazy. Loved JFK, but this is overdosing me.

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flashpuff1 January 15 2014 at 4:28 PM

I told a customer I was waiting on.That day and weekend waiting for his funeral was. THis was to be the most sad and gut renching happening at 15.No sad happenings in my life was so profound.The gentleman look me in the eye and said It had effected him too the same way.He shook my hand and said God bless President Kennedy.

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ihuber1 January 15 2014 at 3:09 PM

50 Year old "news"... that's HUFF PUFF

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wabaheteromi January 15 2014 at 1:34 PM

I remember that day as if it was yesterday. I was sitting at my desk at work when my boss rushed in thru the door yelling "The president was shot, the president was shot" I didn't believe him till after work I went home and saw the news on the TV. I couldn't stop crying. It was such a sad, sad day. It still hurts to think about that day.

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mclace January 15 2014 at 1:09 PM

The day of his funeral was the saddest day of my life. I will forever hear the mornful dirge, the clatter of horsehooves and wagon wheels, and the muffled drums echoing in my mind. How very brave Jackie was, to have stood there and maintained her composure. It was a sad, sad day!

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Pam January 15 2014 at 12:38 PM

So many questions, so few answers. Yes, he had his mistresses, but nonetheless he did a lot of good for the Country, and could have done so much more if he hadn't been murdered in the prime of life.

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clrochnh January 15 2014 at 12:18 PM

I was in school when the President was murdered (I feel that is what was done, not using the word assassinated). My mother was sitting on the couch and she told me, I started crying and didn't stop for along time. I learned a lot about him and his family and I learned one of the most important issues is that he was the best and would have changed this country for the better. He never got that chance. As for John Junior, I feel that he was also murdered, and his plane had been tampered with before he took off, because he was getting ready to run and become president. He and Caroline, are exactly like their parents and he would have been another wonderful changing president. Unfortunately for the people of the United States we loss so much.
I can only wish that they will find the man that was by John Jr. plane, before he took off.
I can also wish that Caroine will run for office, I know that she is strong and can make a difference in our country. I also wish that Hiliary Clinton, Caroline Kennedy and the governor of Arizona will run with Hiliary Clinton for President. Can you imagine, what a strong government we would finally have? I know that a lot of people will disagree with me, but think hard and you can see it would be the best.
God Bless to everyone in the US and to the Kennedy family

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rexitalia January 15 2014 at 12:16 PM

Mrs Kennedy= Class all the way!

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b740g January 15 2014 at 12:06 PM

Kennedy. We will never know what he could have done but we do know what he did.

He was another Kennedy scondrel who Bammed any attractive woman in his path. He brought his ladies into our White House and even entertained the mistress of a mob.

You may mourn him but do not make him a saint. He certainly was not.

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2 replies to b740g's comment
jmarkov320 January 15 2014 at 1:55 PM

no one ever said he was a saint but he was an American and I do believe he wanted the best for this country

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djv1024 January 15 2014 at 5:43 PM

You are an idiot, with terrible spelling and grammar to boot.

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ragaudiana January 15 2014 at 12:02 PM

There is a recent book entitled "Letters to Jackie" by E. Fitzpatrick.

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