Monday, May 10, 2010

Letters to Jackie: Condolences from a Grieving Nation

Dear Mrs. Kennedy
I am sorry he is dead
Tony Davis
Age 7

When discovering this book existed I felt that I was getting a truthful glimpse into the past. History books report the facts and leave much to the imagination because they are completely vacant of emotion. I feel that one would have to see the emotion of an event from the past to truly grasp it's impact. This book is a collection of letters mailed to Mrs. Kennedy after John F. Kennedy was killed. The level of shock, heartbreak, anger, confusion, and fear is clearly evident in the letters from fellow Americans.

All of these emotions reminded me of the emotions felt during September 11th. An event that rocked the nation (and the world). I feel that much of the news reports from that horrible day will depict how horrible it all was (mind you, I was in NY during the attacks and had family in Washington, to this day many of the memories are still clear in my head and the tears of our NY news casters still fresh). I was not alive when Kennedy was killed but reading this book I can have a better understanding of it all. I could also ask my mother, but she was so young that her memory of the event is unclear.

The letters also display the level, and lack, of education from state to state. While some letters from adults have misspellings or barely structured sentences there are also letters which are intricately written by 10 year olds. They also speak of their won troubles and heartbreak within their lives. One little boy points out his daddy was also killed and that Santa Claus couldn't receive his letters so he requests that Mrs. Kennedy lets Santa know that he would like a bike for Christmas. The people also write of the political adjustments occurring in the world. The Second World War which had only happened 25 years prior and the movements of civil rights.

This book should be deemed as important as other historical books. Upon learning about the Kennedy assassination in school I feel that the students should also be given excerpts from this- letters written by people their age. It's emotion filled pages teach much and leave you moved. It's proof once more that the written word holds power and can have a great impact.

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