Sunday, January 30, 2011
"We shall pay any price, bear any burden" to defend freedom, John F. Kennedy vowed in his inaugural address.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Produced by: Ryan R. Reed, Beth Py-Lieberman and Brian Wolly
Special thanks to: Larry Bird and Harry Rubenstein
Friday, January 28, 2011
Hi. I just want to tell you "The Kennedy Detail" is a great book! I could hardly put it down. I thought that was funny when Clint Hill thought he was not going to be an agent anymore, but then transferred to the First Lady Detail.
Like I said I read every word. When John, Jr saw them leave Andrews on November 21, then the President saying "Take care of John," you mentioned he never said that before. That reminded me of what I read about President Lincoln saying to (his secretary I think it was Mr. Crook) "Goodbye Crook" instead of Good night. Perhaps the two presidents had an inkling they wouldn't be back.
The detail of things-like the trips to Tampa and then to Texas are so vivid I could see them happening, like when the one SS Agent pushed the little boy to the ground to get him away from the President. Your right, that was his job. Including every detail and how it happened was chilling.
This book is so great because it's not a book about an historical event by historian, it's by you and all the agents who actually lived through those events and then had to live with the events and outcomes for the rest of their lives.
I hope one day I will get a chance to meet you and Clint Hill.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
by FAYE FIORE / Los Angeles Times
But if there is a lasting emblem that sums up Nov. 22, 1963, the day America tumbled from youthful idealism to hollow despair, it is Jacqueline Kennedy's rose-pink suit and pillbox hat.
An expanded collection of Kennedy treasures and trivia was unveiled this month on exhibit and online to coincide with the 50th anniversary of JFK's inauguration; it includes the fabric of his top hat (beaver fur) down to his shoe size (10C).
But missing and hardly mentioned are what could be the two most famous remnants of Kennedy's last day. The pink suit, blood-stained and perfectly preserved in a vault in Maryland, is banned from public display for 100 years. The pillbox hat — removed at Parkland Hospital while Mrs. Kennedy waited for doctors to confirm what she already knew — is lost, last known to be in the hands of her personal secretary, who won't discuss its whereabouts.
Does it matter? Should it? It's said that history takes a generation to decant, and great chapters are defined by the trappings of everyday life: a stovepipe hat, a pair of polio braces. Mrs. Kennedy could not have imagined the outfit she put on that morning would come to epitomize the essence of Camelot and the death of it.
"The single symbol of that event and of her as a persona is that pink suit," said Carl Sferrazza Anthony, a first ladies historian. "It's all anyone need see and, in an instant, people know what it is in reference to."
This is the story of how an otherwise ordinary pink suit and hat came to be treasured by a nation, only to slip from its reach.
Few public figures understood the power of fashion the way Jacqueline Kennedy did, and when she packed for Dallas, she chose nothing she hadn't worn before. The goal was not to upstage the president as she had to his delight on a recent trip to Paris, but to exquisitely accentuate him as the 1964 election season kicked off. She took along two suits, one of them the pink Chanel knockoff created by a New York dress shop so she could indulge her French tastes and still buy American.
The pink was unforgettable — the color of roses, azaleas, watermelon. Kennedy himself asked her to wear it. It was trimmed in navy blue, with a blue blouse, blue pumps and handbag, and the trademark pillbox hat, secured with a pin.
Looking back now at the grainy footage of the first couple as the dark limousine, top down, rounded the turn from Houston to Elm, it's hard not to hope for a different outcome. As long as she is wearing that hat, the world is still intact. Then, inevitably, comes the lurch of his body, the unforgettable flash of pink scrambling in panic across the trunk. All that day, her clothing bore witness to history.
Lady Bird Johnson, wife of Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, who was riding in the motorcade's third car, recalled for investigators her memory of Secret Service agents frantic to get the president inside Parkland Hospital while his wife bent over him, refusing to let go: "I cast one last look over my shoulder and saw, in the president's car, a bundle of pink, just like a drift of blossoms, lying on the back seat."
Clint Hill, the Secret Service agent assigned to protect the first lady, remembered resting his hands on the suit's trembling shoulders, the left side of the skirt wet with blood where she was cradling her husband's head.
Somewhere inside the hospital, the hat came off. "While standing there I was handed Jackie's pillbox hat and couldn't help noticing the strands of her hair beneath the hat pin. I could almost visualize her yanking it from her head," Mary Gallagher, the first lady's personal secretary who accompanied her to Dallas, later wrote in her memoir.
Despite urgings from staff and handlers to "clean up her appearance," Mrs. Kennedy refused to get out of her bloodied clothes, according to biographer William Manchester's detailed account of the assassination, "The Death of a President."
"Why not change?" one aide prompted.
"Another dress?" the president's personal physician suggested.
Mrs. Kennedy shook her head hard. "No, let them see what they've done."
The suit was never cleaned and never will be. It sits today, unfolded and shielded from light, in an acid-free container in a windowless room somewhere inside the National Archives and Records Administration's complex in Maryland; the precise location is kept secret. The temperature hovers between 65 and 68 degrees, the humidity is 40%, the air is changed six times an hour.
"It looks like it's brand-new, except for the blood," said senior archivist Steven Tilley, one of a handful of people to lay eyes on the suit since that day in Dallas.
Half a dozen members of the Assassination Records Review Board, created by Congress in 1992 to preserve all available records for public scrutiny, were admitted to the vault for a rare glimpse, but did not consider it relevant to the crime. No other requests to see it have been granted.
Yet the suit's stamp on history is indelible for a nation that anguished at every sight of its disheveled first lady: climbing the stairs onto Air Force One to accompany her husband's coffin back to Washington, standing beside Lyndon Johnson as he took the oath of office — an iconic photo of an unexpected transfer of power fully explained by a stricken expression and a stained sleeve.
"Somehow, that was one of the most poignant sights," Mrs. Johnson later wrote in her diaries, "that immaculate woman exquisitely dressed, and caked in blood."
Despite the chaos, aides managed to secure virtually all of the Kennedys' belongings back at the White House by nightfall. The pink hat seemed to hopscotch from Dallas to Washington, according to Manchester's account. There it was in a heavy paper sack, cradled in the arms of one of the president's baggage handlers aboard Air Force One. While Mrs. Kennedy accompanied the coffin to Bethesda Naval Hospital for the autopsy, the hat made its way to the executive mansion.
A White House policeman was instructed to give it to Agent Hill, but handed it by mistake to Robert Foster, the agent assigned to protect the Kennedy children. Foster, who died in 2008, told Manchester he took the bag to the Map Room and opened it, immediately recognizing the contents.
Mrs. Kennedy returned to her private quarters of the White House in the early morning hours of Nov. 23. She took off the suit and bathed. Her maid, Providencia Paredes, told Manchester that she put the clothing in a bag and hid it.
What became of it after that speaks to the confusion and numbness of the time. A president had not been assassinated in 62 years; no one knew what to do. The Kennedy children had to be brought from their grandmother's Georgetown home to the White House and told. It wasn't even clear who should prosecute the murder — shooting the president was not then a federal crime. The first lady's attire was not exactly top priority as President Johnson figured out how to take the helm of a grieving nation.
But sometime in the next six months, a box arrived at the National Archives' downtown headquarters, where such treasures as the Constitution and Bill of Rights are kept. In it was the suit, blouse, handbag and shoes, even her stockings, along with an unsigned note on the letterhead stationery of Janet Auchincloss, Mrs. Kennedy's mother: "Jackie's suit and bag worn Nov. 22, 1963."
The box was the one originally sent by the dressmaker, addressed to "Mrs. John F. Kennedy, The White House," but wrapped now in brown paper. Archivists put all of it in a climate-controlled vault in stack area 6W3, where it remained for more than 30 years.
"It was sort of a secret that we had it," Tilley said. Sticklers for protocol, archives officials knew it still legally belonged to Mrs. Kennedy. So it was more than a little awkward when Parade Magazine called in 1996 with a question from a reader asking what became of the pink suit.
Tilley, then head of the JFK collection, tried to reconstruct how it fell into archivists' hands. Mrs. Kennedy had been dead for two years, her mother for seven. He called everyone he could find in a position to know. No one could recall the box arriving. The single-digit postal code on the address was the only clue that it had been mailed sometime before July 1964, when the nation switched to five-digit ZIP Codes.
"It's one of the mysteries," Tilley said. "And there is nobody around anymore who can ever fill that in."
He suspects Mrs. Kennedy's mother sent it. The first lady herself exchanged letters with the head archivist in the weeks after the assassination, but there was never any mention of her suit.
"She kept it on that day, but once that moment passed, then perhaps she didn't want anything to do with it after that," Tilley said.
In the mid-1990s, the suit was moved to a new, second archives building here. In 2003, a deed of gift was secured from Caroline Kennedy, by then the sole surviving heir. She stipulated the suit not be displayed for the life of the deed —100 years. When it runs out in 2103, the right to display it can be renegotiated by the family, Tilley said.
And the hat? Agent Hill, 79, who famously lunged onto the back of the limousine that day to protect the first lady, had the answer.
"I know what happened to the hat," he said in a phone interview. "I gave it to Mary Gallagher."
Gallagher, 83, and Paredes, the maid who boxed up the clothes, together have posted for Internet auction a long list of items that once belonged to Mrs. Kennedy — a pink nightgown: $300-$400; a used tube of "Arden Pink" lipstick and some pale blue stationery: $200-$300; an unopened pack of Greek cigarettes and matchbook: $100-$200. (Mrs. Kennedy was a closet smoker.)
Reached by phone, Gallagher refused to discuss the hat.
"I don't accept these kinds of calls. Over the years they've just been enough so that I've had to draw the line.... I'm sorry. I can't help you any further," she said, hanging up.
No one at the National Archives has ever searched for the hat because it legally belongs to Caroline Kennedy. Attempts to reach her were unsuccessful.
Many of the National Archives records are open for public research, and the Kennedy assassination remains one of the three most asked-about subjects, up there with the Watergate scandal and the alien invasion of Roswell, N.M.
The archives' vast collection includes the president's shirt as it was cut off by the medical team, the tie nicked by a bullet, his white lace-up back brace. Even the contents of Parkland Hospital's Trauma Room One, where he was pronounced dead at 1 p.m. Texas time, are in a cave somewhere in Kansas.
But the whereabouts of the hat is a little-known mystery no one is working to solve; Kennedy historians contacted for this story were surprised to learn it's missing. They suspect it was sold to a private collector, or stuck away in somebody's attic, lost to the nation, a hole in history. [END]
Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
At last, after all my years of research, your book has meant the most to me, especially because it is first hand knowledge, and first class writing; nods of appreciation to Lisa McCubbin as well.
I've tried to leave myself open to investigating all aspects of the assassination; your book is the missing piece of which I've been waiting. Thank you for this important contribution to American history.
Please forgive my sending this note via electronic mail; I would have much preferred sending a hand written note, but given the reality of today's less personal society, and lack of your postal address, I send this with great respect and gratitude.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Lisa McCubbin, Clint Hill and Detective Jim Leavelle.
With Toby Chandler and Clint Hill
Monday, January 24, 2011
January 23, 2011
|Place|| Weeks |
The infamous queen of Egypt as a political power player.
(Little, Brown: $29.99)
The story of Louis Zamperini, a World War II bombardier, POW and Olympian.
(Random House: $27)
Reflections on life and the relentless march of time.
The president invites children into the worlds of 13 famous Americans.
Keith Richards with James Fox
The seemingly eternal musician shares his life as a Rolling Stone.
(Little, Brown: $29.99)
Stats, info and more.
Mark Twain edited by Harriet E. Smith, et. al
Newly unexpurgated, this first volume commemorates the 100th anniversary of Twain's death.
(UC Press: $34.95)
Roger Connors and Tom Smith
How leaders can use organizational culture to strategic advantage.
Seven essential principles for transforming your life.
Critical choices that shaped the former president's time in the White House.
A Jesuit priest works with L.A. youth in his gang intervention program.
(Free Press: $25) Read The Times' book review.
Photos of baby animals born in captivity.
(Beach Lane Books: $12.99)
How to produce the best physical results with small changes.
Tips and insight for women as to what motivates men.
Tips for raising teenagers drawn from Judaic wisdom and child psychology.
A member of JFK’s Secret Service team discloses details from the day of his assassination and the aftermath.
Spike Lee & Jason Matloff
A behind-the-scenes look at the director's breakthrough 1989 film.
(Ammo Books: $39.95)
The rhythm and rhymes behind the rapper and businessman.
(Spiegel & Grau: $35)
The personal correspondence between the famous chef and friend who helped find her first publisher.
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: $26)
The history of a band of '60's LSD-dealing hippies, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love
(Thomas Dunne: $24.99) Read The Times' book review.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Just a short note to say how much I enjoyed your book, which I finished reading just tonight.
I also enjoyed the Kennedy Detail program on Discovery Channel recently.
I really thought your book had some very touching moments and I am so glad that you wrote it.
I can really identify with your feelings since I was the literary agent who helped retired FBI Special Agent James P. Hosty, Jr., get his book, "Assignment: Oswald," published in 1996.
Jim faced many of the same issues you guys did and remained silent about his experience (two interviews with Marina Oswald BEFORE the assassination and the famous Oswald note that he was ordered to destroy) until his retirement in the mid-90s. He voted for JFK in 1960, and his late wife, Janet, was helping with the luncheon at the Trade Mart the day of the assassination.
Jim was also libeled in Oliver Stone's piece of crap, "JFK," but he has also been widely interviewed by the mainstream media since his book was published which has helped get his story and the truth out. I'd be willing to put you in contact with Jim, who is still in pretty good health in his mid-80s, if you desire. I'd also be willing to trade an autographed copy of his book for one of yours if you'd care to send it inscribed to me at the below address.
I'm a great admirer of JFK and can vividly remember his death, when I was 11 years old. He inspired me to seek a career in public service and journalism, just as President Obama inspired me to seek the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate here in Kansas this year.
You are certainly right that a lot of misinformation has been published about JFK's death (including Bonar Menninger's incredibly stupid book about a Secret Service agent accidentally shooting the president) but I think that we're turning the corner now on the silly crap and are beginning to set the public straight. Your book greatly helps in this regard.
Thanks again for writing such an outstanding book. I hope that we will have occasion to meet sometime soon. If there is anything that I can do to facilitate your visit to Kansas City, please let me know. There is one locally-owned book store here that regularly attracts big crowds for author lectures and book signings. I am at your service.
With best wishes.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
A never-before-seen glimpse at Kennedy's election on its 50th anniversary.
Friday, January 21, 2011
"The Kennedy Detail" Book signing Tonight at 7 PM at the Carrollwood Barnes and Noble on North Dale Mabry.
JFK's Secret Service agents write about guilt, events leading to assassination in "Kennedy Detail"
TAMPA - Everyone can pinpoint a moment in life we wish we could change; details we often dwell on.
Three United States Secret Service Agents have this in common. Their regrets start in Tampa in November of 1963.
"It was sunny outside,” Blaine remembers. "We had 28 miles of motorcade. We had an appearance at Lopez Field, which has been replaced by the Steinbrenner family and also the National Guard Armory."
Agent Gerald Blaine was working the President's Secret Service detail that day along what was once called Grand Central Avenue.
"All the sudden he looked over his shoulder and saw the agents riding on the back of the car. He tapped the agent-in-charge on the shoulder and said "Have the Ivy League Charlatans drop back to the follow-up car,'" according to Blaine. "The President said essentially, 'look, my political style is to be with the people and if I have agents hovering over me, it detracts from that.'"
The President's orders, given to Agent Blaine and Secret Service Agent Chuck Zboril, along what is now Kennedy Boulevard, set the stage for the tragedy that unfolded 100 yards after a slow turn onto Elm Street in Dallas, Texas.
"We had the top off because the weather conditions were such that it was a beautiful day,” said Hill. He says there were a lot of people hanging out of windows and on balconies.
Agent Clint Hill's Secret Service detail was to protect Mrs. Kennedy. His regrets are he couldn't do more.
"I heard an explosive noise from the right rear," recounted Hill. "What I saw was the President grabbing his throat. So I jumped off the follow-up car, ran toward the Presidential vehicle,” he said. "The driver accelerated, the car starting moving forward, causing me to slip. I regained my foothold but before I did a third shot rang out."
Agent Hill has spent nearly fifty years dissecting those six seconds.
"I was the only one who was in a position to do anything,” Hill said. "If I had been a second and a half faster, quicker, I'd a been there in time.”
Agent Zboril was in Tampa, but not Dallas, and still shoulders guilt.
"My shift was on-duty that day and I had the temporary assignment to go to Atoka and I thought if I had been there maybe history would have been a little different,” said Agent Zboril.
"That was the terrible thing when he was assassinated, we all had the guilty feeling about it and felt that we had failed," Agent Blaine told us.
These three Secret Service Agents still dwell on these details, the kind that changed them -- and history.
"It never gets any easier," said Agent Hill.
The Secret Service Agents will be signing copies of their book "The Kennedy Detail" Friday night at 7 PM at the Carrollwood Barnes and Noble on North Dale Mabry.
Editor's Note: Some images used in the video are courtesy of the St. Petersburg Times archives.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address Inspired a New Generation of Statesmen
By HUMA KHANJohn F. Kennedy in a riveting call to service. "My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."
For those who witnessed it, Kennedy's inauguration day was anything but smooth. A snowstorm wreaked havoc in Washington, nearly cancelling the inaugural parade.
The U.S. Army was put in charge of clearing the streets and former president Herbert Hoover missed the swearing-in ceremony because he couldn't fly into the city. When the ceremony did start, a lectern caught fire during the invocation, which some complained was too long, and Vice President Lyndon Johnson fumbled his words during his swearing-in.
Yet the mood surrounding the event was one that Americans hadn't felt in years.
"There was this tremendous sense of vigor and yes, hope and optimism. It was also a time when we were entering a huge economic boom," remembers ABC News contributor Cokie Roberts, a college freshman at the time who was unable to make it to the inauguration because of the snow.
"A lot of people who are the senior statesmen of today were the kids in that era who came because of Kennedy, and they came because they were asking what they could for their country," she said.
Kennedy's uplifting inaugural address, remembered by some historians as one of the best in the nation's history, challenged Americans to serve their country at a time when the Cold War simmered overseas and the civil rights struggle grew at home.
"The inaugural address was certainly incredibly well-received. And the whole gravity, the credence and the whole business of the torch has gone forth to a new generation, that was absolutely true," Roberts said. "The visual image of the turnover from Eisenhower to Kennedy, it was very striking -- a man who was a general in World War II versus this man who was the second youngest president, who was a kid on a PT boat."
Kennedy's election marked many firsts for the United States. At age 43, he was the youngest president to be elected. Teddy Roosevelt came to the White House at 42, but he replaced William McKinley, who was assasinated. Kennedy was also the first, and to this date, the only Catholic elected as commander-in-chief and he brought a sense of excitement among American Catholics that hasn't been seen since.
Those close to him also remember him as an amiable, funny president, a marked departure from his predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower.
"President Kennedy, the first time he met you he asked your name and he never forgot it. The second time, he asked your wife's name and your children's names, and he was personable with the agents and very much a free spirit compared to President Eisenhower," said Gerald Blaine, a Secret Service agent in Eisenhower and Kennedy's security detail and co-author of the "The Kennedy Detail: JFK's Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence."
"It was such a contrast because he was so young and was totally different."Kennedy also brought youth and intrigue to the White House. His fashionable and glamorous wife, Jackie Kennedy, and two young children, captured the fancy of Americans in a way that no other first family had done before.
"To have that after the years of Eisenhower and Truman and Roosevelt, suddently to have this young energetic family was just a complete shot of adrenaline into the city, and tons and tons of young people came to town to participate in government," Roberts said.
Kennedy ascended the White House at a time of great economic prosperity, but his presidency wasn't without its challenges. He had to deal with the Cuban Missile Crisis and growing racial tensions that would eventually turn very violent.
Much of the hope and optimism felt during Kennedy's inauguration 50 years ago resonated two years ago at the same time this year, when President Obama -- the first African-American president to be elected -- took his oath of office.
The optimism of the Obama White House, however, has quickly faded amid economic discontent and political partisanship.
Though it was a different era, historians say the parallels between now and then are not widely different.
"It doesn't seem like the political environment was as caustic but it was still quite difficult. There was a definite political schism between what would be called liberal and what would be called a more military conservative version, but it was different than it is now," said Don Lawn, author of "The Memoirs of John F. Kennedy: A Novel." "The schism has gotten a lot nastier and it's becoming a lot more difficult to talk about and discuss anything."
It may have been over a lifetime ago, but there are still lessons to be learned from that time.
"The idea of public service is not as valued as it was back then. It was almost a popular position to be someone who give their life over to public service, the Peace Corps for instance," said Lawn. " It was quite a different attitude then and he was trying to promote that. He had been a public servant his whole life, he didn't have to. He was pretty rich but he chose a pretty daunting environment to challenge his stability."