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JFK library releases condolence letters his widow cherished

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JFK’s widow kept 44 boxes of condolence letters in her personal collection that now have been released by the Kennedy library.

“Whenever I can bear to, I read them,” Jackie Kennedy said 50 years ago in her first remarks to the nation since the president’s assassination.

The library says the Kennedys received 1.5 million condolences, of which Jackie kept about 7,000 close to her. Many of the letters in her collection are from children.

A 10-year-old girl from Louisiana invites “the nicest lady in the whole world” and her children “to come over to our house when you are not busy.” She signs the long letter: “one of your great fans.”

A 13-year-old boy took the president’s death to heart. ”It was kind of my fault,” he says, because he’d earned only a “C” in American history. “After this tragic loss, I realized that I could do plenty to help my country. Next term, I promise you, I’ll get an A.”

Some VIP condolences had already been made public. Among the telegrams, one from Gen. Douglas MacArthur: “I realize the utter futility of words at such a time, but the world of civilization shares the poignancy of this monumental tragedy. As a former comrade in arms, his death kills something within me.”

The letters are copyrighted and can be seen only in the library’s research room, but you can download a zip of some of the letters Jackie cherished here (click in the upper right of page).

To read more telegrams from VIPs such as Cary Grant and Ezra Pound, go here.

h/t CBS News

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