Seattle woman reflects on letter sent to Jackie Kennedy

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by MIMI JUNG / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @MimiJungKING5

KING5.com

Posted on March 10, 2010 at 8:12 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 10 at 8:12 PM

SEATTLE - She wrote the letter more than 46 years ago. From Ethiopia, Ann Owens felt the pain and shock of President John F. Kennedy's death and put pen to paper in a touching letter to her mom.

Owens writes, "Dear Mom, Even the Ethiopian sky is in mourning today and it was raining last night when President Kennedy died... I feel now as if a member of my family had died. In a very real sense he was our idol;  he is the reason for our being here -- his idealism, his courage."

Owens was 25 at the time and teaching English in the Peace Corps, the organization Kennedy created.

After Kennedy's assassination in 1963, Jackie Kennedy received more than a million condolence letters. For decades, thousands of them sat in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, until author and historian Ellen Fitzpatrick selected 250 of them to be published in a new book "Letters to Jackie."

They are letters from average Americans who were in shock and in mourning.

"These are not historians looking back saying this is how people felt, this is really how people felt because they poured their hearts out to Jackie," said Fitzpatrick.

Among those letters was one from Anna Lounsbery, Owens' mother.

"It wasn't until Ellen Fitzpatrick contacted me and told me about it that I realized my mom had written a letter and had enclosed a copy of my letter to her," said Owens.

Owens, now 72, a retired school teacher living in Seattle, still has that original letter. And now, it's part of an important piece of history and a chance for future generations to understand the depth of a nation's grief.

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