nellie connally

President John F Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, Texas Governor John Connally, and First Lady of Texas Nellie Brill Connally riding through Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 before President John F Kennedy was assassinated.  

“Making small talk along the route, Jack asked Nellie Connally how she would respond if someone booed her husband. “If I get close,” Nelly answered “I’d scratch their eyes out.” Kennedy laughed but kept right on waving. “Mr. President” she said as a car made it hard left turn from Houston Street onto Elm Street, “you certainly can’t say Dallas doesn’t love you.” “No.” he replied “you certainly can’t.”

Sweltering in her wool suit and squinting in the brilliant sun- Jack had asked her not to wear sunglasses so the crowd could see her face- Jackie prayed they would reach their destination soon. Nellie Connally pointed at the overpass ahead. “We’re almost through” she said “The Trade Mart’s beyond that.” “Good” Jackie thought to yourself as she and Jack exchanged a fleeting glance “it will be so cool in that tunnel…”

What happened next was said to be the catalyst for an era of turmoil discord, and bloodshed. Vietnam, campus unrest, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, race riots, the rise of counterculture and a surge in a drug abuse, even the toxic political climate that gave rise to Watergate- all seem to flow from the wellspring of shock and despair that was tapped in Dallas on November 22, 1963

In the end it all came back to the electrifying young couple in the White House that held the world spell down for a thousand days. Was their marriage deeply flawed? Without a doubt. Complicated, even frustratingly so? No question. Infidelity, recklessness, and deceit were part of the imperfect union. But so, too, we’re courage, loyalty, wit, faith, fortitude, and true, abiding affection. After a decade of tragedies triumphs, betrayals and reconciliations the president and his wife were dealt with the most devastating blow any couple could endure- the loss of a child. In that brief period of time between Patrick’s death and Dallas- not quite four months- Jackie and Jack grew closer together than they had ever been. Too late to make up for all the pain that had gone before? Perhaps. But not too late for Jack to fulfill the promise to Jackie he made every time he got up to sing “September Song”

And these few precious days I’ll spend with you

These precious days, I’ll spend with you.”

51 Years, Rest in Peace JFK

-These Few Precious Days By. Christopher Andersen


Nellie Connally gives an interview for PBS in 2003.