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Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

jackie oPerhaps known as the wife of the late president John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, or "Jackie O" as she would famously be known, endured one of the most tumultuous lives ever lived in the public eye. As a mother, a wife, a fashion icon, and of course a first lady, she will go down in history as one of the most popular and beloved figures of the 20th century.

Born Jacqueline Lee Bouvier in Southampton. NY, Jackie would grow up in a well-to-do social environment, the daughter of a known stockbroker who went by the name "Black Jack" Bouvier. Jackie had the privilege of attending acclaimed private schools, and would develop a talent for the arts, including writing poetry and short stories.

After her parents separated, Jackie would spend summers at her grandparents estate, where she would become a serious equestrienne. Despite being named the "Debutante of the Year" in 1948 (a title given to young women in well known social circles), Jacqueline continued her education, traveling abroad to France and eventually graduating from George Washington University.

Her early career began as a "camera girl" for the Washington post, where her work became a regular column that posed questions to locals in the D.C. area. During this time, Jackie became acquainted and engaged to a stockbroker named John Husted. Eventually, the engagement was called off due to pressure from her family. It was during these years that she would meet Senator John F. Kennedy, and after awhile, the two became an item.

The couple would get engaged and eventually marry in September of 1953. While married to Kennedy, Jackie went through numerous traumatic incidents involving a miscarriage, a stillborn daughter, and later a son who died from what is now commonly refereed to as respitory distress syndrome. The couple did have two other children, Caroline and John Jr., who famously died in a tragic plane crash along with his wife and sister in law in 1999.

During John's run for presidential office, Jackie would play an integral roll in assisting her husband in both his campaign and as a prominent first lady once he got into office. John and Jackie were one of the first presidential couples to be feverishly adored by the world and often made the headlines, even making fashion statements in their day.

As the first lady, Jackie became well known for ability to throw lavish parties and events when inviting foreign ambassadors to the White House. The attention given to her during this time was unprecedented, in part by the emergence of the television as an integral part of everyday life. It was during this time that Jackie become well known as a fashion icon, dazzling her guests with designer dresses and hairstyles, which the public would pay much attention to.

One of her most well known accomplishments is the restoration of the White House, going as far as to enact legislation that preserved the historical furniture and artifacts as belonging to the Smithsonian. Upon entering the White House for the first time, Jackie noticed how poorly maintained it was. She appointed the first White House curator and formed the Fine Arts Committee, dedicated to preserving and honoring the effort and craftsmanship that went into the White House's furnishings.

jackie kennedyIn addition to her work inside of the White House, Jacqueline would also do much work outside as well. She was very highly regarded in France, where she had studied and learned the language, and was often considered more popular there then her husband was. Tours of India and Pakistan would follow, much documented at the time, where Jackie and her sister would meet with the ambassadors of each nation to enhance the image and relationship between them and the United States.

As if her life hadn't already been full of grief, the worst was yet to come. In November 22, 1963, as she rode alongside her husband in a motorcade in Dallas, TX, John F. Kennedy was shot and killed. The incident was caught on film and has been argued for decades as to who actually pulled the trigger, igniting a series of conspiracy theories that are present to this very day.

The next few years of Jackie's life would be spent in New York City with Caroline and John Jr., where she continued to morn the loss of her husband. She eventually remarried to Aristotle Onassis, where her new surname would be shortened to the nickname "Jackie O". Due to the assassination of John F. Kennedy's younger brother Robert, Jackie tried to distance herself from the Kennedy name and family in order to protect her family.

After becoming a widow again in 1975, Jackie began a career in editing at a number of large publishing houses in New York City. In addition to her publishing work, she continued to preserve many American historical locations much like she revitalized the White House, lending a hand in New York's Grand Central Terminal restoration. She would ultimately succumb to lymphoma in May of 1994 at the age of 64. She is buried in Arlington National Cemetery next to her fallen husband and children, and has been the benefactor of many honors throughout the world.

While a high profile figure as the first lady and "fashion icon" of her time, through all the ups and downs in her life, Jackie O was first and foremost a mother to her children, a difficult task considering the circumstances which she had to endure. Every reaction of the events Jackie lived through was always in the best interests of her two children, whether it be shielding them from the public eye during their stay at the White House, or keeping them safe from the terror that inflicted the Kennedy family following the assassinations of John and Robert. To this day she is highly regarded as one of the most honored and praised mothers of her time.


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