Nightly News   |  January 14, 2014

Newly Released Letters to Jackie Kennedy

Fifty years after Jacqueline Kennedy thanked Americans for their letters of sympathy following her husband’s death, the JFK Library has released some of those letters.

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>>> it was 50 years ago tonight jacqueline kennedy still mourning her late husband went on national television to thank americans for their expressions of condolences. today the kennedy library released some of those moving and heartfelt letters for the first time ever, the story tonight from nbc's andrea mitchell .

>> reporter: she had been widowed for only 53 days , less than two months since the assassination, joined by her husband's brothers, bobby and teddy wearing black. jacqueline kennedy spoke to the nation for the first time since that terrible day in dallas. thanking the nearly 800,000 people whose letters had poured into the white house .

>> the warmth of these tributes is something i shall never forget.

>> released today a time capsule of pain. 22,000 letters so moving, so person personal.

>> a man in new jersey who made a bust of jfk for his garden.

>> one woman wrote, i would love for you and your children to come over to our house when you're not busy. and a toddler named kennedy after the president. jfk can had just sent his namesake a signed picture from the white house . it arrived two days after he was killed. but the most poignant. a letter from maxine mcnair, one of the girls killed five months earlier in the bombs of the church in birmingham, alabama. when the tragic news came across the airwaves, again my heart said, it isn't true, it didn't happen.

>> isn't this strange how people with so much to give to the world were taken.

>> why she was moved to write.

>> i was hoping it would give her some comfort, because i got a lot of comfort from the letters people wrote me.

>> two women, a world apart, brought together by the shock and pain of violent sudden loss.

>> may i thank you again on behalf of my children and the president's family for the comfort that your letters have brought to us all.

>> an archive now preserved for all time. andrea mitchell , nbc news, washington.