Jackie Kennedy suffered one of the most traumatic events any wife can go through. They assassinated her husband as he sat next to her accepting the cheers from the admiring crowd on November 22, 1963.
However, Jackie as she was simply known to the American people and all around the world, kept her dignity throughout her horrible ordeal and in the process helped the nation from falling apart.
In many ways the example set by Mrs. Kennedy, who mere minutes after witnessing her husband’s assassination allowed America to be able to put John F. Kennedy to rest.
Jackie Kennedy was a revered First Lady of the United States, people were fascinated by her every move. From her fashion style to her beauty, she was an icon, much as President Kennedy was an icon in politics.
Together, the couple had a magical aura, that has not been seen since.
John Kennedy was so popular, that where ever he went, thousands flocked to see him. When Jackie Kennedy joined him, the crowds doubled in size.
On the day of Kennedy’s assassination, Jackie Kennedy showed the nation how classy she truly was.
The events witnessed thanks to the Zapruder Film, show how Mrs. Kennedy first looked to her husband, concerned, when he grabs his throat after the first shot hits him.
A few seconds later, when the fatal shot is delivered by Lee Harvey Oswald, she gets out of her seat and climbs onto the back of the limousine as the Secret Service agents pulls her back inside.
Jackie Kennedy recalls, she was trying to recover a part of Jack’s brain which was falling out off the car.
What happened next seems to be a blur. From reports through the years, we know Jackie Kennedy cradled her fatally wounded husband’s head all the way to Parkland Hospital where she refused to leave his side.
She was forced to wait on the hallway, steps away from Room 1, in which doctors were doing the impossible, trying to keep President Kennedy alive.
Later on she would force her way into the room and place her wedding ring on her dead husband’s finger, as described by one of the attending physicians.
Viewers also witnessed as Jackie Kennedy stood, stoically, next to Lyndon Johnson as he was sworn in on board Air Force One, to assure the continuity of power in the country, her face stricken with unimaginable grief.
After finally being allowed to take her husband back to Washington, D.C., Jackie Kennedy is seen, looking exhausted and still shocked, arriving at Andrews Air Force base, still wearing her blood stained suit, but standing tall.
Her brother-in-law, who would himself be murdered by a gunman in 1968, Robert F. Kennedy, rushed to her side inside the aircraft and tells her, “Hi Jackie, I’m here” as he hugs her.
Inside the limousine that takes them, and Kennedy’s body to Bethesda Hospital, Jackie Kennedy tells Bobby of the events of the day.
As the hours went by the First Lady, she began to build a picture of what she wanted to happen next.
A report published in 1995 indicates Jackie Kennedy wanted more than everything privacy and memorials to her husband.
“I wanted that flame and I wanted Cape Kennedy…. All I wanted was his name on just that one booster, the one that would put us ahead of the Russians,” she said, apparently referring to the rocket to the moon.
In the next few days the nation saw how brave Jackie Kennedy was as she held the hands of her two young children, Caroline and John Jr., who would turn three-years-old on November 25th.
The indelible image of her and Caroline approaching the flag draped coffin at the Capitol building and kneeling reverently as they kiss the flag, and later that heartbreaking one of John Jr. saluting his father for the last time, are ingrained in the collective memory of the country forever.
After Jackie Kennedy left the White House, she remained mostly in the background, leading a quiet life. She later married Greek magnate Aristotle Onassis.
With her poise and grace, Jackie Kennedy was a catalyst for the intense emotions the nation was suffering following President Kennedy’s assassination and she gained the admiration of millions in the process.
Jackie Kennedy passed away from cancer on May 19, 1994 and is buried next to her husband at Arlington National Cemetery, where the eternal flame she wanted burns for all generations to see.