Jackie in Pink Hat
by Laura Collins
Jackie in Pink Hat
by Laura Collins
Eroni Kumana, one of two Solomon Islanders who saved the life of John F. Kennedy during World War II, died on Saturday at the age of 93.
(Eroni Kumana in 2009. Robert Craigie/JFK Library)
On August 2, 1943, while on night patrol under 26-year-old Navy Lieutenant John F. Kennedy’s command, PT 109 was hit and sunk by a Japanese destroyer. Two crew members died instantly; eleven others eventually swam to a small island. Kennedy rescued a badly burned crew member by holding the man’s life jacket between his teeth and towing him to safety.
(The crew of PT-109. John F. Kennedy is seen at far right. JFK Library)
Over the next three days, Kennedy and his surviving crew members drank the milk and ate the meat of coconuts while Kennedy swam for hours over sharp corals in shark-infested waters searching for friendly boats.
(Lt. John F. Kennedy in the South Pacific, circa 1943/ John F. Kennedy Library Foundation)
On August 6th -71 years ago today- Lt. Kennedy encountered two native islanders, Eroni Kumana and Biuku Gasa, serving as scouts for the Allies. He etched a message—”NAURO ISL/NATIVE KNOWS POSIT/HE CAN PILOT/11 ALIVE/NEED SMALL BOAT/KENNEDY”— onto the husk of a coconut and asked the two scouts to deliver it to the nearest allied base. Kumana and Gasa’s successful mission led to the eventual rescue of Kennedy and his crew on August 8, 1943.
Seen above, the coconut with John F. Kennedy’s inscription was turned into a paperweight, which the President kept on his desk in the Oval Office.
Sixty-five years later, speaking with an American visitor to the Solomon Islands, Eroni Kumana requested that a highly prized family heirloom—a piece of “Shell Money” or “Kustom Money”—be placed at the gravesite of his “Chief,” President Kennedy, as a formal tribute. Made by hand out of giant clam shells, “Kustom Money” was used for many purposes, including for honoring one’s chief.
On November 1, 2008, at a ceremony held at Arlington National Cemetery, members of President Kennedy’s family gathered to receive Kumana’s tribute which was placed on the grave.
After remaining on the gravesite, the “kustom money” was conveyed to the Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum where it will now be displayed as part of the museum’s permanent exhibits next to the coconut shell that led to the rescue of JFK and his crew.
I am a woman above everything else.
-Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis
July 28th 1929 - May 19th 1994
Happy birthday to an extraordinary lady, in every sense of the word.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis
July 28th, 1929 - May 19th 1994
Happy Birthday Jacqueline Kennedy! | July 28, 1929 – May 19, 1994
"She epitomized elegance in the post–World War II era. There’s never been a first lady like Jacqueline Kennedy, not only because she was so beautiful but because she was able to name an entire era ‘Camelot’ … no other first lady in the 20th century will be able to have that aura. She’s become an icon." —Historian Douglas Brinkley
Sen. John F. Kennedy, with his wife Jacqueline on the family yacht “Marlin.”, July 19 1960
Jackie O’s wedding dress for her wedding to JFK in 1953 was designed by the African American designer Ann Lowe. She wasn’t credited openly at the time and even as a fashion designer I only just learned about her.
She also designed dresses worn by Oscar winners and debutantes. She worked for other houses and also ran her own eponymous line in New York for many years. She sought to “to prove that a Negro can become a major dress designer.” And her elite client list shows that she met her goal. She learned to sew from her mother and continued her trade even when glaucoma threatened her vision.
Had to share the history of this amazing black woman. Lighting a candle to her today.
”I feel more cruelly every day what I have lost—I always would have rather lost my life than lost Jack.” - Jacqueline Kennedy