This morning, the world learned of the passing of legendary folk singer Pete Seeger.
In March of 1961 Seeger was facing trial for contempt of Congress after refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Pete Seeger wrote to President Kennedy:
"I would not take up your valuable time with my personal problem, except that I feel it is a very fundamental one which concerns all America these days. Do I, or does any citizen, have the right to hold unorthodox opinions, whether they are purely right or horribly wrong, and do I have the right to join with others who think similarly?"
Arlo Guthrie also wrote to JFK asking him to "please do what you can for Pete Seeger."
-from the Kennedy Library
In the aftermath of the assassination of President Kennedy, people from all over the world wrote to the First Family expressing their sympathy and respect.
The JFK Library recently opened a new series of condolence mail from Mrs. Kennedy’s personal papers containing many of these letters. Bob Thorn, a thirteen-year old wrote:
"It was kind of my fault because I feel I wasn’t a good student. My mark in American History, (in which we were studying about the government and the President) was a C… Next term I promise you I’ll get an A."
A letter from a six-year old Ted Kennedy to Santa Claus:
Dear Santa Claus,
Thank you very much for the toys you gave me. You can give me some more any time you want to. I liked the watch best. Thank you again.
Lot of Love
PS Happy new year.
-from the JFK Library
Fifty years ago, a mere two weeks after President Kennedy’s death, seven individuals met in Boston to begin creating the memorial to his life. Lem Billings, Nathan Pusey, Ed Hanify, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. and Evelyn Lincoln joined the president’s brothers Robert and Edward to form the organization that would build JFK’s presidential library: the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library Corporation (now known as the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation).
Pictured: One of the signed documents establishing the President John F. Kennedy Memorial Library Corporation.
-from the JFK Library
Condolence letter to Jacqueline Kennedy from Dr. Martin Luther King Sr. and Jr.
Today at 1:30 p.m., we invite you to join a special live webcast of a musical tribute in honor of the memory of President Kennedy at www.jfklibrary.org.
Award-winning singer-songwriter James Taylor, saxophonist Paul Winter and the Paul Winter Sextext, and the United States Naval Academy Women’s Glee Club will perform musical selections including two from the President’s State Funeral.
They will be joined by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick; Elaine Jones, director-counsel emeritus of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, NASA Astronaut Chris Cassidy, Richard Blanco, poet for the 2013 U.S. presidential inauguration; and Sarah Groustra, an 8th grade student from the Edward Devotion School that JFK attended as a child, who will all read excerpts from a selection of President Kennedy’s most historic speeches.
The ceremony will include a moment of silence at 2 p.m., the time that the President’s death was announced to the nation.
In an effort to allow anyone in the world to join this remembrance, this event will be exclusively for an online audience. There will be no physical audience during these performances – simply the backdrop of the sea that the President loved so dearly as the ceremony is webcasted live at www.jfklibrary.org.
Condolence letter to Jacqueline Kennedy from Myrlie Evers Williams, widow of the assassinated civil rights leader Medgar Evers.
Mrs. Kennedy received over 1.5 million letters of condolence from around the world. Among them were messages from Duke Ellington, Indira Gandhi, Cary Grant, Nikita Khrushchev, General Douglas MacArthur, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ezra Pound, and Marie Tippit (widow of police officer JD Tippit, who was also killed by Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22, 1963).
The Riderless Horse
On November 25, 1963, during President Kennedy’s funeral procession, a magnificent black gelding, with an empty saddle, saber, and boots reversed in the stirrups, followed the caisson bearing the President’s coffin. The riderless horse is one of the highest military honors bestowed upon the fallen. Black Jack, the horse used during JFK’s funeral procession, was from the Army’s oldest active infantry unit, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as The Old Guard. He alone defied the strict military discipline of the day with his rowdy behavior: prancing, throwing his head, and dancing around his walker.
After the funeral, Mrs. Kennedy, an avid horsewoman, expressed an interest in Black Jack. Within hours, the horse’s saddle and blanket, and the boots and saber were delivered to her at the White House.
-from the JFK Library