When John F. Kennedy died on Nov. 22, 1963, Ellen Fitzpatrick was only 11 years old. Although most of us weren't around then, as we've been told by our parents and aunts and uncles, anyone who was alive then, no matter how young, has some memory of JFK. Fitzpatrick, the author of a new book, "Letters to Jackie" is no different: "I remember him being my president. He came to my hometown when I was 11 years old, and I saw him," she told us. "I remember that vividly."

Now, over 40 years later, Fitzpatrick -- a historian and professor at the University of New Hampshire -- has uncovered what Americans back then thought and felt during Kennedy's assassination, in the form of condolence letters to the First Lady.

"Letters to Jackie: Condolences from a Grieving Nation" features 250 of the more than 800,000 letters Mrs. Jackie Kennedy received after her husband's passing. From notes from new parents sharing that they named their son after JFK, to stories about their own losses, the book shows the feelings of everyday Americans who shared the Kennedy family's grief. For those of us too young to have that memory, it gives us an eerie sense of the impact on a generation that came before us.

"I think the letters explain [JFK's impact on Americans] better than almost any other source I've seen," Fitzpatrick said. "And it shows the diversity of responses to him from lots of different groups. So in that sense, it's a snapshot of the country in the early 1960s. And it's also a very raw and immediate set of reflections coming right out of the mouths of Americans."

Read what a handful of them were feeling after the jump.





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