Today in History: 60th Anniversary of the Assassination of President John F Kennedy

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Assassination:

Q: Why was Kennedy in Texas?
A: Kennedy went to Dallas to address the Dallas Citizens Council’s annual meeting at the Dallas Trade Mart. His undelivered speech was on the subject of national security.

Q: How severely wounded was Texas governor John Connally?
A: Governor Connally suffered a shattered rib; splintered bones in his wrist and forearm; and bullet puncture wounds to his back, lung, chest and thigh.

Q: Why did First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy climb onto the back of the car after the shooting?
A: Jacqueline Kennedy climbed on the back of the car to retrieve fragments from the president’s head, though she had no memory of it afterward.

Q: Was Kennedy killed instantly?
A: The first physician to see the president at Parkland Memorial Hospital, within minutes of his arrival at 12:43 p.m., reported hearing a heartbeat, but finding no pulse or blood pressure.

this November 22, 1963 file photo, President John F. Kennedy waves from his car in a motorcade approximately one minute before he was shot in Dallas. © Jim Altgens, AFP

Q: What was the official cause of Kennedy’s death?
A: Dr. George Gregory Burkley signed Kennedy’s death certificate, which listed “Gunshot wound, skull” as the cause of death.

Q: When was the president declared dead?
A: Kennedy was declared dead at 1 p.m., 17 minutes after he arrived at the hospital.

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Q: Where was Vice President Lyndon Johnson at the time of the shooting?
A: The Vice President was in the motorcade, two cars behind Kennedy’s.

Q: How many shots were fired?
A: The Warren Commission determined that three shots were fired during the assassination.

Q: How far is the hospital from the site of the shooting?
A: Parkland Memorial Hospital is about four miles from Dealey Plaza

Investigation:

Q: Who led the initial investigation?
The Dallas Police and the FBI conducted the initial investigation in the 24 hours after the assassination.

Q: Was Abraham Zapruder the only person to film the assassination?
A: At least two people in addition to Abraham Zapruder filmed the last bullet hitting President Kennedy: Orville Nix and Mary Muchmore.

Q: When was the Warren Commission established?
A: President Johnson established the Warren Commission on November 29, 1963 — a week after the assassination.

Q: When did the Warren Commission issue a report?
A: The Warren Commission presented its report on September 24, 1964.

Q: How long was the Warren Commission Report?
A: The Warren Commission Report was 888 pages long; the commission’s published hearings ran to 26 volumes.

Q: According to the Warren Commission, who killed Kennedy?
A: The Warren Commission determined that Lee Harvey Oswald — acting alone — shot President Kennedy and Governor Connally.

Q: Were there other official investigations into the Kennedy assassination?
A: In the 1970s, two other groups in Washington, D.C. investigated Kennedy’s assassination: the President’s Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States and the House Select Committee on Assassinations. A New Orleans district attorney, Jim Garrison, led his own controversial investigation in 1967.

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Q: According to the House Select Committee on Assassinations, who killed Kennedy?
A: The House Select Committee on Assassinations reported that Kennedy “was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. The committee was unable to identify the other gunmen or the extent of the conspiracy.”

Q: According to the President’s Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States, who killed Kennedy?
A: The President’s Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States determined that “the findings of the Warren Commission regarding a lone assassin were correct.”

Q: Jim Garrison used Sodium Pentathol when interviewing witness Perry Russo. What does it do?
A: Sodium Pentathol is a depressant drug that some believe to act as a “truth serum.” It is often used in general anesthesia.

Aftermath:

Q: Where was Lee Harvey Oswald when he was shot?

A: Lee Harvey Oswald was at Dallas police headquarters, in the process of a transfer to the Dallas County Jail, when local businessman Jack Ruby shot him.

Q: Where was President Kennedy buried?

A: President Kennedy was laid to rest at Virginia’s Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, November 25, 1963, a national day of mourning.

Q: What happened to Jacqueline Kennedy after her husband’s assassination?

A: In 1968, Jacqueline Kennedy married Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis. After his death in 1975, she worked as a book editor in New York. She died in 1994 from cancer.

Q: What happened to Jack Ruby after his arrest?

A: Jack Ruby was convicted of Oswald’s murder in 1964, The Texas Supreme Court overturned the conviction after Ruby’s lawyers successfully argued that he could not receive a fair trial in Dallas due to the huge publicity surrounding the case. On January 3, 1967, while awaiting a second trial, Ruby died from cancer-related complications.

Q: What happened to Lee Harvey Oswald’s Russian-born wife, Marina?

A: Marina Oswald remarried in 1965, and remained in Texas. Her two daughters with Oswald, June (born in 1962) and Rachel (born in 1963), took the surname of their stepfather.

Q: In the days after Kennedy’s death, how many people believed there was a conspiracy behind the assassination?

A: A November 1963 Gallup poll found that 52 percent of people polled believed there was a conspiracy behind the assassination of President Kennedy.

Q: How many people today believe there was a conspiracy behind the assassination?

A: Today 70 percent of Americans believe there was a conspiracy behind the assassination of President Kennedy.

Statement by President Joe Biden on the 60th Anniversary of the assassination of President John F Kennedy. 

Sixty years ago today, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, a defining moment of deep trauma and loss that shocked the soul of our nation. Millions of Americans still remember exactly where we were when it happened. I was in college and had just left class, joining other students glued to the news in silence along with the entire country.

The weeks and months that followed awakened a generation. President Kennedy had been a war hero, senator, and statesman. He set our nation’s compass firmly on many of the most consequential issues of the 20th century, from civil rights, to voting rights, to equal pay for women. He led with calm resolve through the most dangerous moments of the Cold War. And at the dawn of a new decade, he called us forward to a new frontier, propelling us to the moon and beyond. He inspired a nation to see public service as a calling.

Like millions, I deeply felt his conviction and dreams for America. His ideas rhymed with the lessons I’d learned from the nuns at school and around my father’s kitchen table – that we are each called to do good works on this earth, to try to make our world a better place in the service of others. But what stuck with me most was President Kennedy’s courage, his heroic sense of duty, and his family’s capacity to absorb profound suffering.

We saw that most clearly with First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, whose grace and resilience still hold the hearts of the American people, as they did during that most challenging time in the life of her family and of our nation. His brother, Robert, was one of my greatest political heroes; and Teddy was one of my closest friends. His daughter, Caroline, remains a dear friend as well, along with countless Kennedy family members whom Jill and I have been privileged to know, and to whom we send our love and affection on this day of remembrance.

In life and in death, President Kennedy changed the way we saw ourselves – a country full of youthful hopes and ambition, steeled with the seasoned strength of a people who’ve overcome profound loss by turning pain into unyielding purpose. He called us to take history into our own hands, and to never quit striving to build an America that lives up to its highest ideals.

On this day, we remember that he saw a nation of light, not darkness; of honor, not grievance; a place where we are unwilling to postpone the work that he began and that we all must now carry forward. We remember the unfulfilled promise of his presidency – not only as a tragedy, but as an enduring call to action to each do all we can for our country.

May God continue to bless President John F. Kennedy.