The Day A Nation Cried
It’s very strange when you think about it. After all, I was only a child, and our television was still the old black and white in 1963. So why do you suppose the pink suit is ingrained, branded really, into my mind?
After that fateful day in Dallas in November of 1963, our television set remained on for days; we watched every single thing televised about the President and his death. And I still remember it all…with one exception. I remember it in color. The only possible answer is, of course, that I eventually saw the days play out in color on the pages of Life Magazine and transferred those images to what I remember on television.
It wasn’t hard even in those days of limited coverage to discover exactly how the day played out in Dallas.
And it wasn’t long before the world knew that Jackie was wearing the pink suit. Of course, we all saw that she continued to wear it as she stood by while LBJ was sworn in, and somehow we knew that it was pink and that the dark spots were blood.
Eventually, we learned that she refused to take the suit off, “Let them see what they’ve done to Jack.”
The First Lady, now the former First Lady, continued to wear the suit that her husband chose for her as she waited for the autopsy to end and as she boarded the plane to make the long, nightmarish trip back to Washington DC.
We watched in black in white but we saw in color as Bobby met his sister-in-law when Air Force I landed at Andrews Air Force Base, the suit as well as her hand and leg still covered in the blood of her husband. And then, sometime in the wee hours of the morning, Jacqueline Kennedy removed the pink suit for the last time, placing it in a plastic bag.
We know today that the suit was never cleaned and was eventually sent to the home of Jackie’s mother and that a few months later she sent it to the National Archives where it has been stored in a climate controlled vault since 1964, banned from public view for 100 years.
When Jackie donned the suit that her husband asked her to wear that day in Dallas, no one could have known that within twenty-four hours, everything about the pink garment would be burned into the minds of people across the world for generations to come.
Yes, vividly I remember the pink suit. I also remember what it was like to be a part of a country who loved its President…whether we agreed with every policy or not, and collectively we…as a nation…sat and cried as if a member of our own family had been taken.
What has happened to us?
Photos from Google Images