There is so much conspiracy around the assassination of our 35th U.S. President, John F. Kennedy, that normally I wouldn't touch this topic with a ten-foot pole! But today, being the anniversary of the historic event, I thought I would take a unique approach... just the facts.
Here's what we know...
The former president and the Mrs began their day of November 22 in Fort Worth, TX. Even though President Kennedy had not made an official announcement to run in the next presidential election in 1964, he was making the rounds in preparation for it. His goal was to reach Florida and Texas. He made an appearance, solo just outside the hotel where a light drisel of rain was falling. "There are no faint hearts in Fort Worth," Kennedy would say, "and I appreciate your being here this morning."
The party would move on to Dallas and be greeted by a gathering of well-wishers and the Kennedy's spent some time shaking hands. This would be the first extended appearance of the first lady since the death of their son, Patrick. She was given a bouquet of red roses and they were escorted to their limousine.
The rain had stopped, so the plastic bubble topper for the convertible was left off. Governor John Connally and his wife, Nellie were seated in front while the Kennedy's took the back seat.
Vice President Lyndon Johnson and his wife, Ladybird rode in a vehicle directly behind.
They left the airport and headed toward downtown. Crowds lined the streets, waving, during the entire procession.
Just after 12:30, the motor cade turned off Main Street passing the tall Texas Schoolbook Depository, when the report of gunfire was heard.
Governor Connally was struck in the back. President Kennedy was struck in the neck and the head. The president slumped forward, while Mrs. Kennedy jumped for her seat and reached out behind the car. (I know I said facts only today, but that would leave no answer here at all, so I offer the two most common opinions. The first, she was trying to get the attention of the security team walking directly behind. They were instinctively looking for the direction of the reports and may not have been aware that the president had been shot. The other is, that she grabbed the brain matter and pieces of skull that blew back onto the trunk... possibly believing it could be put back together. By this time, John Kennedy's body and slumped down from the seat to the floor.
The driver of the car immediately turned out of the procession and headed toward Parkland Memorial Hospital. It was too late. President J.F. Kennedy would be pronounced dead at 1:00 pm. He was 46 years old.
Immediately following, the president's body was taken to Air Force One and there, Vice President, Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn is as the 36th president of the United States with Jackie Kennedy at his side. It was 2:38 pm.
The swearing in was witnessed by over 30 people and quickly following, the plane left Dallas Love Airfield and went directly to Washington
Sidenote: She refused to remove her bloodstained pink dress and was later credited with saying she wanted them to, "she what they've done to Jack."
Also, Sidenote: Sarah Hughes was the Federal Judge who administered the oath for the new president making her the first and only female to ever do so.
In the meantime, Lee Harvy Oswald was arrested for fatally shooting a police officer, J.D. Tippitt, 45 minutes after the shooting that took Kennedy's life. He was not arrested for the assassination. The gun that was used, did belong to him... and he was a current employee of the Texas Schoolbook Depository and yes, he was arrested for another killing recently as well... but he would never stand trial for either since two days later during a jail transfer, He was shot and killed in the basement of the Dallas Police Station at close range by Jack Ruby.
Many believe that Jack Ruby's actions would play into a bigger cover-up conspiracy but when on trial for the murder, he denied the allegations and claimed that he was so grief stricken at the murder of the president, he temproarily suffered from "psychomotor epilepsy" and committed the shooting unconsciously.
He was found guilty of "murder with malice" and sentenced to death, but wouldn't make it to the new trial as he suffered from a pulmonary embolism after being diagnosed with cancer.
The shooting of the president as well as the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald and the the funeral processional were all caught on film and seen by an audience of millions due to the television coverage.
Sidenote: Just 10 minutes after the shooting, CBS was the first to broadcast a live news bulletin about the incident. Shortly thereafter, NBC and ABC would interrupt their regular programming to cover the assassination for four straight days. This would be the longest "uninterrupted news event" in television history which held until the news coverage of 9/11 in 2001.
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