Saturday, July 28, 2012

TDIH: The Last Private Public Figure

On this day in 1929, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was born in Southhampton, New York. An accomplished woman who will forever be remembered for the time she spent in the White House, a time cut tragically short.

Something that Anna Quindlen wrote in the New York Times in 1994 about Jackie upon her death comes to mind whenever I think about who Jackie was:
"The moment when she crawled out onto the back of the open limousine in which her husband had been murdered was the first and last time the American people would see Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis crawl... She was the last great private public figure in this country. In a time of gilt and glitz and perpetual revelation, she was perpetually associated with that thing so difficult to describe yet so simple to recognize, the apotheosis of dignity."
She was a person every American identified with, even if they weren't able to identify just what it was. They shared her grief and shock. Americans felt as if Jackie belonged to the nation, just as much, if not more so, than President Kennedy belonged to the nation. And yet Jackie didn't want any of that for herself or her children. She fiercely protected her children. Let it not be forgotten that she defended and defined her husband's legacy almost immediately following his death.

As the "last great private public figure," Jacqueline Kennedy still captivates and draws the curiosity of a nation.

Jackie Kennedy would have been 83-years-old.

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