He would have been 95 years old this past Tuesday, May 29. She would be 83. As they sat together, the young first-term Senator from Massachusetts and his wife dreamed of great things. They knew that this was a special time, and that great things lay ahead of them, but they could not have anticipated the pain along the way.
The pressures of being newlyweds in Georgetown were great. Already the Senator was in high demand. Social engagements were frequent and time alone was rare. When the opportunity came to escape to a small-town inn, they were happy to take it. They enjoyed sitting in the garden gazebo, and chatting while listening to the radio. Even there, though, there was work needing his attention, and by the time they returned to the train Sunday evening, the feeling at the station was reminiscent of a campaign rally: his wide, engaging smile, waving to the crowd, his young wife demurely by his side.
Pain was always lurking, though. His back was injured during a PT-boat accident and would require two surgeries, the second of which would nearly kill him. He channeled the pain into writing a Pulitzer-winning book. She would suffer her first miscarriage, beginning a long-term fight with depression.
To those observing from the outside, it seemed as though everything came easily to the couple. No one saw the long hours of planning and preparation. No one was aware of the almost-constant frustrations. No one knew the hours she cried, alone. There were rumors of his philandering, but the truth was much, much different. Even when he did run for president, he won by the most narrow of margins, less than one-tenth of one percent. Despite their constant smiles in public, nothing was as easy as it seems.
TIME magazine, and others, referred to this as the period where Camelot begins. Perhaps, it is best to remember them this way, when the smiles were still real, before there was so much heartache and disappointment. As time passed, their ability to have private lives would disappear completely, but for this weekend, they could be happy.[Disable Flash Gallery]