The Assassination of John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the thirty-fifth President of the United States. He was assassinated on November 22nd, 1963 at approximately 12:30 p.m. as he rode in his presidential motorcade through the Dealey Plaza, Texas. At the time of his assassination, Kennedy was accompanied by his wife, John Connally, the Governor of Texas as well as his wife. Kennedy was shot by former United States Marine, Lee Harvey Oswald, who fired from a nearby building. While the Governor was seriously wounded in the shooting, President Kennedy was declared dead approximately thirty minutes after he was shot. This paper will seek to analyze the events leading to President Kennedy’s shooting, the assassination event, and the aftermath.
President Kennedy traveled to Texas in an attempt to handle some conflicts in the Democratic Party that had arisen between conservative John Connally and liberals Don Yarborough and Ralph Yarborough. The trip to Texas was announced on September 1963 to the general public. When President Kennedy arrived in Texas, his motorcade route was planned to ensure that the president got full exposure and as much time to meet the local residents. At around 11:40 a.m., President Kennedy’s motorcade left for his trip through Dallas. The schedule ran for ten minutes longer than planned because of the congestion caused by large, enthusiastic crowds as well as two unplanned stops that were directed by the president (Mathis 19).
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By the time President Kennedy’s motorcade reached Dealey Plaza, the assassination site, they entourage was barely five minutes away from the final destination of the tour. More specifically, President Kennedy’s convertible limousine reached at the Dealey Plaza at around 12:30 p.m. At this point, the First Lady of Texas, Nellie Connally said to President Kennedy, “Mr. President, you can’t say that Dallas doesn’t love you” (Mathis 18). President Kennedy acknowledged her comment by saying, “No, you certainly can’t” (Mathis 18). This statement marked the last words that were ever spoken by President Kennedy.
The president’s vehicle turned onto Elm Street, after which it passed by the renowned Texas School Book Depository. All of a sudden, numerous shots were fired at President Kennedy’s motorcade as it continued to pass through Elm Street. In this regard, approximately 80% of the individuals who were present at the time recalled hearing three gunshots. Immediately, Governor Connally, Mrs. Kennedy, and President Kennedy all turned from focusing on the left to abruptly looking to their right; the source of the gunshot sound (Mathis 20).
According to Mrs. Connally, President Kennedy raised his arms with his hands positioned in front of his throat and face (Engdahl 6). After a few seconds, another gunshot was fired after which Governor Connally yelled. Mrs. Connally turned away from the President and looked towards her husband, and at this point, another shot was fired. At that point, Mrs. Connally, as well as the limousine’s interior rear, were partially covered with parts of the human brain, skull as well as blood. According to investigators, President Kennedy was waving his hands to the onlookers when the shot got him at the upper back, penetrating his neck and damaging his spine as well as the top part of his left lung.
That particular bullet exited his throat and penetrated through his tie- knot’s left side. This prompted him to raise his elbow and clench his fist as indicated by Mrs. Connally. Consequently, Mrs. Kennedy faced her husband and put her arms around him protectively in concern (Mathis 22). The bullet that shot through the Governor penetrated through his right armpit destroying four inches of the fifth rib. It exited his chest below his right nipple. Upon exiting, the bullet shot through his right wrist and shattered his radius bone; breaking it into eight pieces. The second bullet that hit President Kennedy entered his head; passing in several fragments through his skull.
President Kennedy’s blood and fragments scattered all over his limousine as well as to the Secret Service escort car and the motorcycles riding on either side of his car. After President Kennedy was shot in his head, Mrs. Kennedy started to climb out of the limousine through its back. However, she later revealed that she couldn’t remember doing so. Agent Clint Hill, one of the President’s security detail, believed that Mrs. Kennedy was trying to reach for something; most probably a piece of her husband’s skull. As Agent Hill jumped into the President’s limousine, Mrs. Kennedy got back to her seat while the car sped towards Parkland Memorial Hospital (Engdahl 8).
The medical personnel who attended to President Kennedy stated that his state was moribund. This meant that the President didn’t have any chance of survival at the time he arrived at the Parkland Memorial Hospital. According to the President’s personal physician, George Barkley, the gunshot wound that had penetrated through the President’s skull was the ultimate cause of his death. Consequently, he was declared dead at 1:00 p.m. after all heart activity had ceased (Mathis 23). Meanwhile, Governor Connally underwent an emergency surgery which comprised of two operations on the same fateful day.
Some minutes after 2:00 p.m., President Kennedy’s body was taken to Love Field. Consequently, his casket was loaded onto Air Force One. It remained at the passenger compartment after a row of seats was removed. Lyndon Johnson had accompanied President Kennedy to Texas and was part of his motorcade detail during the assassination. He refused to leave Texas without Mrs. Kennedy and President Kennedy’s remains. At 2:38 p.m., with Jacqueline Kennedy beside him, Lyndon Johnson took the oath of office which was administered by Sarah T. Hughes; a federal judge (Mathis 24). As such, he took the oath shortly before departing to Washington D.C aboard Air Force One.
The main suspect in the shooting was Lee Harvey Oswald 9 (Bugliosi 3). Roy Truly, Oswald’s supervisor at the Texas School Book Depository reported Lee missing to the Dallas Police. Approximately seventy minutes after President Kennedy’s assassination, Lee was arrested for murdering police officer J. D. Tippit. The officer had spotted Lee after identifying him as the suspect who was being sought after in connection with President Kennedy’s assassination. As Tippit tried to arrest him, Lee shot him four times after which he fled from the scene. However, he was soon arrested and faced charges of murdering Officer Tippit and President Kennedy. He denied the charges and claimed that his arrest was due to the fact that he was a part of the Soviet Union.
However, Lee was never tried in court as he was shot two days after the assassination. More specifically, as he was being led to a car to transfer him to the county jail, Jack Ruby fatally shot him in the chest (Bugliosi 3). Ruby claimed that the assassination of President Kennedy had deeply disturbed him and that he had killed Lee so as to spare Mrs. Kennedy from the trouble and anguish of attending and following up on the trial. Upon being shot, Lee was rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital where he died at 1:07 p.m.
President Kennedy was accorded a state funeral which took place in Washington D. C. He was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery located in Virginia. The assassination prompted an official investigation that encompassed different teams. The Dallas Police carried out paraffin tests which confirmed that Lee had recently fired a firearm. The Warren Commission which was overseen by President Johnson concluded that Lee had acted alone in assassinating President Kennedy and wounding Governor Connally. Other teams that carried out investigations included the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations, the Church Committee, the Rockefeller Commission and the Ramsey Clark Panels (Bugliosi 4). All these teams sought to unravel the assassination that rocked and shook the United States.
President Kennedy’s assassination took place on November 22nd, 1963 as he made his way through the streets of Dallas. A gunshot wound to the head was revealed as the main cause of his death. The Governor of Texas, John Connally also sustained serious injuries in the process. Lee Harvey Oswald, a former United States Marine was arrested in connection with the assassination. However, he was fatally shot by Jack Ruby before he could appear in court. President Kennedy was buried in Virginia after a state burial was conducted in Washington D. C. Consequently, various teams were formed to investigate his murder. Among them was the Warren Commission which revealed that Lee was solely responsible and guilty of assassinating President Kennedy.