Mary and Jack

Mary McGrory (1918-2004) and John Kennedy (1917-1963) were friends.  They actually dated when they were just cubs making their way in Washington.

He became the president, and she, the top woman journalist in D.C. manning a daily column for the Washington Star that in its day was as important as the Washington Post and New York Times.

When he was killed on November 23, 1963, she was heartbroken like the rest of us.  But maybe for her, just a little more. She sat at her desk after the funeral unable to write. After hours of tearful contemplation she said to herself…

In the presence of great grief and emotion, write short sentences.  

This is what she wrote:

The Washington Star November 26, 1963

The Funeral Had That Special Kennedy Touch

 Of John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s funeral it can be said he would have liked it. It had the decorum and dash that was in his special style. It was both splendid and spontaneous. It was full of children and princes, gardeners and governors. 

  Everyone measured up to New Frontier standards. A million people lined every inch of his last journey. Enough heads of state filed into St. Matthew’s Cathedral to change the shape of the world.

  The weather was superb, as crisp and clear as one of his own instructions. His wife’s gallantry became a legend. His two children behaved like Kennedys. His three-year-old son saluted his coffin. His six-year-old daughter comforted her mother. Looking up and seeing tears, she reached over and gave her mother’s hand a consoling squeeze.  

  The procession from the White House would have delighted him. It was a marvelous eye-filling jumble of the mighty and the obscure, all walking behind his wife and two brothers. There was no cadence or order, but the presence of General de Gaulle alone in the ragged march was enough to give it grandeur. He stalked splendidly up Connecticut Avenue, more or less beside Queen Frederika of Greece and King Baudouin of Belgium. 

  The sounds of the day were smashingly appropriate. The tolling of the bells gave way to the skirling of the Black Watch Pipers whose lament blended with the organ music inside the cathedral….

  He would have seen every politician he ever knew, two ex-presidents, Truman and Eisenhower, and a foe or two…

His old friend Cardinal Cushing of Boston, who married him, baptized his children and prayed over him in the icy air of his inaugural, said a low mass. At the final prayers after the last blessing he suddenly said, “Dear Jack…”

The funeral cortege stretched for miles…Children sat on the curbstones. Old ladies wrapped their furs around them.

The site of the grave, at the top of one slope, commands all of Washington. Prince Philip used his sword as a walking stick to navigate the incline.

His brother, Robert, his face a study of desolation, stood beside the President’s widow. Jackie Kennedy received the flag from his coffin, bent over and with a torch lit a flame that is to burn forever on his grave, against the day anyone might forget that her husband had been a President and a martyr. 

It was a day of such endless finesse with so much pathos and panoply, so much grief nobly born that it may extinguish the unseemly hour in Dallas, where all that was alien to him-savagery, violence, irrationality-struck down the 35th President of the United States.  

Mary McGrory 

John F. Kennedy would have been 101 years-old today.   





About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
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11 Responses to Mary and Jack

  1. skinnyuz2b says:

    The Kennedys were certainly America’s royalty. I don’t think there is any way for the younger generations to understand the importance and impact of that fateful day in November. Pookie came downstairs and wanted to know what was wrong because I had tears in my eyes as I read this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t even print all of it. It was very long. But I thought she captured it all so incredibly. Thanks for reading it.


    • Mary and John did poorly Skinny, no one, even regular readers didn’t seem to care. It saddens me because I love Mary McGrory’s writing so much.

      Thank you for always taking the time to read whatever I put up. I’m very flattered because you’re a teacher who I’m certain knows more than I about so many things.

      I have to remember writing is for the author and I shouldn’t judge it by attendance. Thanks again. Susannah

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing this, Susannah. I learn so much history from you. She was a great writer. I love that first sentence: “In the presence of great grief and emotion, write short sentences.”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The line that touched me the most “In the presence of great grief and emotion, write short sentences.” Well done Mary, well done indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So sad. Those of us of a certain age will never forget that time.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gail Kaufman says:

    “Write short sentences.” That’s an inspiring concept.

    Liked by 1 person

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