Turkish woman keeps letter from Jacqueline Kennedy for 57 years
ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency
When Hatice Erdoğan Yılmaz heard about the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1963, she penned a letter to his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy. Jackie Kennedy then replied in a letter, with a photo of her family sealed in an envelope, to Turkey.
Erdoğan Yılmaz, then aged 16, wrote a letter of condolence to Jackie Kennedy, having asked for a family photo of the presidential family. She has kept the reply letter for 57 years.
Hearing about the news of the assassination of John F. Kennedy on the radio in 1963, Erdoğan Yılmaz wrote the letter in Turkish to the first lady, expressing her condolences.
In her letter, Yılmaz also asked the first lady to send a family photo back to her as a gift and sent the letter to the capital Washington D.C. from a post office in Istanbul’s Kasımpaşa neighborhood.
About a month later, Erdoğan Yılmaz received a letter from Nancy Tuckerman, Jackie Kennedy’s secretary, in an envelope with the “Mrs. John F. Kennedy, Washington, D.C.” seal.
Along with a thank-you note, the first lady Kennedy sent a black-and-white photograph with her deceased husband, herself and their children, as Erdoğan Yılmaz wanted.
Yılmaz, who was 16 years old when Kennedy was assassinated, stated that she remembered those days very well and explained how she decided to write the letter.
“Our radio was turned on that day, and suddenly we heard the news that Kennedy was killed. My father was also very upset. After hearing the news of his death, I wrote a letter,” Yılmaz said.
“About a month later, the letter of reply came. When the answer came from America, the whole neighborhood was thrilled to see it,” she added.
Having translated the letter from English into Turkish, Yılmaz continues to keep the letter, the envelope and the black-and-white photograph of the Kennedy family.
The letter from first lady Kennedy to Yılmaz says: “My dear friend, Mrs. Kennedy would like to thank you for this thoughtful letter, but she apologizes for not being able to reply with her own hand due to the large number of letters. Mrs. Kennedy sends you a photograph you have requested as a memory of the President with this letter. But because of the large number of requests from other people, which is very honorable, we hope you will understand that it is difficult for us to be able to post other photos. Regards.”
John F. Kennedy, thirty-sixth president of the United States, was shot to death in 1963 by a secret assassin armed with a high-powered rifle.
He lived about an hour after a sniper cut him down as his limousine left downtown Dallas, Texas.
He died at Parkland Hospital, where his bullet-pierced body had been taken in a frantic but futile effort to save his life.