History: Assassination of US President John F. Kennedy

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President Kennedy with his wife, Jacqueline, and Texas governor John Connally with his wife, Nellie, in the presidential limousine, minutes before the assassination. Secret Service agents William Greer (driving) and Roy Kellerman are in the front seats.

John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States was assassinated on Friday, 22 November 1963, at 12:30 p.m in Dallas Texas while riding in a presidential motorcade through Dealey Plaza.

According to the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee on Assassinations, Kennedy was waving to the crowds on his right with his right arm upraised on the side of the limo when a shot entered his upper back, penetrated his neck and slightly damaged a spinal vertebra and the top of his right lung.

President John F. Kennedy (affectionately known as Jack) was seated beside his wife, Jackie Kennedy, who was wearing a pink Chanel-like suit and matching pillbox hat. They were seated in the back seat of a dark blue 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible sedan with John Connally, the Governor of Texas and his wife, Nellie.

Jack was waving at the crowd that had assembled to watch the presidential motorcade proceed through the streets of Dallas.

And then came the moment of utter confusion. As the motorcade passed the Texas School Book Depository on Elm Street, a loud noise—like the sound of a firecracker or a car backfiring—filled the air.

President Kennedy slumped forward. Jackie put her arms around him. Then another loud burst, and another.

Jackie has said the look on her husband’s face after he was shot would haunt her for the rest of her life. (Christopher Anderson’s These Few Precious Days: The Final Year of Jack with Jackie).

All the way to Parkland Hospital, where President Kennedy would eventually be pronounced dead, as Jackie recalled it, she was bent over him, asking “Jack, Jack, can you hear me? I love you.”

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Jack Kennedy’s final words to his wife of 10 years were far more mundane, of course. He had no way of knowing what was about to happen. It’s been reported that Jack’s final words were, “My God, I’ve been hit,” but physicians have said this was impossible given Jack’s injuries.

Historians have now clarified that the last words Jack spoke before the fatal shot were, “No, you certainly can’t.”

No, you certainly can’t?

He was making small talk in the car. “You certainly can’t say that the people of Dallas haven’t given you a nice welcome,” the Texas Governor’s wife had just remarked to Jack, referring to the huge, adoring crowd. Get a look at these rarely seen photos of Jackie Kennedy.

“No, you certainly can’t,” Jack replied, milliseconds before the bullet from Lee Harvey Oswald gun struck.

The President was still alive when he was admitted to the hospital less than 10 minutes later, and Jackie did not leave his side or take off the suit which was now blood-soaked and splattered with brain tissue.

At the hospital, when Ladybird Johnson asked Jackie if she wanted to change out of the blood-soaked pink Chanel suit, Jackie refused, saying: “I want them to see what they have done to Jack.”

Vice President Lyndon Johnson, who was three cars behind President Kennedy in the motorcade, was sworn in as the 36th president of the United States at 2:39 p.m. He took the presidential oath of office aboard Air Force One as it sat on the runway at Dallas Love Field airport.

The swearing in was witnessed by some 30 people, including Jacqueline Kennedy, who was still wearing clothes stained with her husband’s blood.

Less than an hour after Kennedy was shot, Oswald killed a policeman who questioned him on the street near his rooming house in Dallas. Thirty minutes later, Oswald was arrested in a movie theater by police responding to reports of a suspect. He was formally arraigned on November 23 for the murders of President Kennedy and Officer J.D. Tippit.

On November 24, Oswald was brought to the basement of the Dallas police headquarters on his way to a more secure county jail. A crowd of police and press with live television cameras rolling gathered to witness his departure.

As Oswald came into the room, Jack Ruby emerged from the crowd and fatally wounded him with a single shot from a concealed .38 revolver. Ruby, who was immediately detained, claimed that rage at Kennedy’s murder was the motive for his action. Some called him a hero, but he was nonetheless charged with first-degree murder.

JFK

John Fitzgerald Kennedy is one of the most well-known politicians in modern history.

JFK first served as a junior senator and was the second youngest person to be sworn as President of the US (after Theodore Roosevelt).

He made history with some remarkable accomplishments that included the creation of the Alliance for Progress with Latin America and the Peace Corps. He was also involved in the successful negotiations for the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with Great Britain and the Soviet Union.

Kennedy was a war hero, an early advocate of civil rights and is still an inspiration for generations yet to come. During his tenure, he gained even more popularity for his commitment to space exploration programs.

This president was at the heart of many historical events. Sadly, on November 22, 1963, he was assassinated by Harvey Oswald while visiting Dallas.

Despite his short time in the White House, JFK remains one of America’s most charismatic leaders and a truly gifted speaker. As a result, he is still quoted by many politicians, historians and writers today.