In the aftermath of the chaotic 1968 Democratic National Convention, and with McNamara gone from the Pentagon and resident at the World Bank, Mrs. Kennedy writes an effusive letter of praise for McNamara’s recent public comments. “How can I write you at 1 o’clock in the morning—having out waited everyone in my mother’s house—all of whom were so moved—rocked—shattered—by your speech which they all saw this afternoon—? … Only your speech brings hope—or rather it makes us all comrades of love and blood in a time of absence of hope.
”Looking about at the guests in her childhood estate, Mrs. Kennedy draws a historical parallel: “I think we are all like the White Russians in Paris—in the nightclubs that you never see in your grand and official visits there—They are Grand Dukes … and all day they may drink—and despair in the element in which they swim and breathe—but at night—they have their music—and there is this wild moment of defiance and despair and laughter—I think of Teddy sailing the sound this summer with this terrible look of not real gaiety on his face … and his crew’s lips cracked with red wine. …”
Even though she writes McNamara “you know we will all be annihilated in the end,” Mrs. Kennedy still praises his resolve to keep going forward. “I know every word Jack said—the ones he meant and the ones he didn’t. In the end it is Pericles’ Funeral Oration which is the most like him—That doesn’t offer you any consolation or hope—It just tells you the terrible way things are—and the way you accept those words tells what you are—Well, we know what you are—everyone has always known. … and wait until you are in Hades—where you will surely be with Pericles and Jack!” The letter concludes by assuring McNamara that his recent address exceeded in beauty—and will exceed in influence—the oration by Pericles recorded by Thucydides in his History of the Peloponnesian War.