Friday, November 22, 1963, was one of these fateful days when the Earth literally stood still, holding its collective breath in amazement, confusion, bewilderment and incomprehension as the news of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination spread around the World. I was only 3 at the time, and still the impact of this momentous event upon the adults around me breached the carefree mind of the toddler that I was and remains with me to this day.
To me, the above picture is a poignant legacy and illustration of how fate can strike in an instant when we least expect it, as we are cheerfully going about our business, oblivious to impending doom. And yet, to think of the people who had been planning this tragedy and were going forward with their dark agenda, while Jack and Jacquie were enjoying the moment, smiling and shaking hands…
There is a “footnote” to this tragedy I had not been aware of until recently – Jacqueline Kennedy refused to change from her blood-stained iconic pink suit as she went through the turbulent events that marked the rest of that fateful day.
“I want them to see what they have done to Jack”
Mrs. Kennedy’s dress was stained with blood. One leg was almost entirely covered with it and her right glove was caked, it was caked with blood – her husband’s blood. Somehow that was the one of the most poignant sights – that immaculate woman, exquisitely dressed, and caked in blood.
I asked her if I couldn’t get someone in to help her change and she said, “Oh, no. Perhaps later I’ll ask Mary Gallagher but not right now.” And then with almost an element of fierceness – if a person that gentle, that dignified, can be said to have such a quality – she said, “I want them to see what they have done to Jack.”
Selections From Lady Bird Johnson’s Diary on the assassination, November 22, 1963
I cannot help but wonder if Jacqueline actually knew who they were, “them”, whom she still feared when her brother-in-law, Robert F. Kennedy, was later also assassinated in 1968. ”If they’re killing Kennedys, then my children are targets,” Jacqueline Kennedy said at the time. ”I want to get out of this country.”
In a recent article, The New York Times reported that for the half century since John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963, the most famous artifact from that day, “one of the most recognizable articles of clothing ever worn”, has been seen by almost no one. Jacqueline Kennedy’s stained pink suit is preserved by the National Archives in a climate-controlled vault outside of Washington. According to the wishes of the Kennedy family, it will not be publicly exposed for almost another century.
 Jacqueline Kennedy’s Smart Pink Suit, Preserved in Memory and Kept Out of View | CATHY HORYN | November 14, 2013 | The New York Times