“The Falling of the Pink Suit”

My group has been assigned the photograph of President Lyndon B. Johnson as he is being sworn into presidency just a few hours after President Kennedy was shot.

When I look at the photograph, I can’t help but feel several different emotions, raising questions as to what happened on November 22, 1963.  I decided to research the day in itself from Jackie’s perspective. As she is the person I will have access to interviews and comments to about the inauguration of President Johnson.

Retracing the events the Kennedy’s had the morning JFK was assassinated, I learned the president had told Jackie to dress warmly, because it was supposed to be chilly that afternoon. He actually requested her to wear her pink suit with a blue collared shirt. She included her oversized sunglasses and a hat to uphold her unforgettable fashionable taste.

At 12:30 when three shots were fired Jackie’s memorable pink suit was splattered in blood as they rushed to the hospital in attempt to save President Kennedy’s life. At the hospital history was written, as the thirty-fifth president of the United States was announced dead.  His body was placed in a coffin and placed onto Air Force One for the flight back to Washington.

Once on the plane Jackie was in her bedroom, her assistants had laid a set of fresh clothes on her bed and the staff was suggesting she needed to “clean up her appearance.” Her response, “No, let them see what they’ve done.” It is said she didn’t remove the suite until 5:00 a.m. the next morning. The suit was confiscated as it was and placed unfolded and away from light somewhere in the National Archives.

That horrific day, one photographer was on board Air Force One. Cecil Stoughton took the photograph of the new President Johnson taking the presidential oath while standing next to a new widow, in a blood splattered suit. Stoughton is the first man designated as an official Presidential photographer and was personally appointed by President Kennedy.

While researching Stoughton, I heard about a heart-wrenching photo of the Johnson’s consoling Jackie while on the plane. I did some digging and was able to find it through the New York Times. I thought it was worth a share…as it was the last day we had the opportunity to see Mrs. Kennedy in an outfit her husband had chosen for her.

Because my portion of the paper will focus on the picture and the comparison to a photo from the War On Terror, I plan to further my research by finding out who else is in the photo and what role he or she had when the photo was taken.




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