Tuesday, October 16, 2012

JFK and Jackie: a bright spotlight and a long shadow

On a September day in 1953, John F. Kennedy, former two-term congressman, and at the time of his wedding a first term U.S. Senator, married Jacqueline Bouvier. It was the society event of the season, if not the year.

As the story states, “600 diplomats, senators and social figures,” and “2,000 society fans,” who had rolled up in chartered buses to see what they could, added to “900 guests at the reception,” made for a huge event. The grand affair garnered a story in the September 28, 1953 issue of Life.

Just nine years later President Kennedy stood on the precipice of nuclear war with what is now called the Cuban Missile Crisis. The threat was real, and the stakes were high. A year after that he was killed in Dallas, and from that moment on everything his wife and family did was news, fed in near daily doses to a never satiated public.

John F. Kennedy was a special person and will be remembered by future generations of Americans. Sometimes a story like this, which was probably something Life editors thought of as human interest, or maybe just a frou-frou type of thing: millionaire former playboy, now senator, marries high society gal, has a short life span, forgotten by the next issue.

But now, when we know what is to come, the story has additional meaning. It has that air of drama not then foreseen, and a long, long shadow that falls over the events of a decade hence.

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