The Assassination of John F. Kennedy

By Aaron McGrath

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the thirty fifth president of the United States of America. He served as president from 1961 up to1963. He was and Irish-American and the only Roman Catholic president to be elected. Many major events occurred during his presidency including Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the building of the Berlin Wall, the Space Race, some of the early events of the Vietnam War, and the American Civil Rights Movement. JFK was assassinated on November 22nd 1963 in Dallas, Texas. An American icon gunned down and an extraordinary life of America’s most controversial President ended. A man called Lee Harvey Oswald, a US Marines officer was charged of the crime. He murdered two days after the assassination. But this conclusion has proved to be a very controversial one. Here is a detailed look into the events of 22nd 1963.

John F. Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts son of Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald. His mother Rose was daughter of John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, a “prominent figure in Boston politics, serving as the city’s Mayor and a member of congress”[1]. Kennedy attended Edward Devotion School in 1922 up to 3rd Grade; Riverdale County School in the Bronx, Kennedy also spent a year in Canterbury Connecticut, and finally The Choate School also in Connecticut where the future president did very well “An IQ of 119 and strong scores on the English and algebra parts of Jack’s entrance exams,[2]” He graduated here in 1935 with a very impressive degree. In the autumn of 1935 Kennedy, his parents and his sister Kathleen sailed to London. There he was enrolled in the London School of Economics. Here he planned on studying political economy, soon after an illness struck him and his father insisted that they returned to America. After coming back he attended Princeton University but unfortunately had to leave again due to developing Jaundice. Later that year he began attending Harvard University. Kennedy was very unfortunate when it came to illnesses although a lot were covered up as he felt it as a sign of weakness “Kennedy and his family covered up the gravity of his illnesses throughout his life and political career[3]”
In the spring of 1941, Kennedy volunteered for the U.S. Army, but was rejected, mainly because of his health problems including his bad back. Nevertheless, in September of that year, “[4]Kennedy was accepted due to the director of the Office of Naval Intelligence being a former attaché to the Ambassador, his father.” JFK attended the Naval Reserve Officers Training School and Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Training Center before being sent to Panama and later the Pacific theater. In the Pacific theater JFK earned the rank of lieutenant, commanding a patrol torpedo boat. During this time Kennedy earned three major medals including the Purple Heart.
JFK Returned to Massachusetts after the war, and was elected as a “Democrat to the US House of Representatives (1947–53) and the US Senate (1953–61).”[5] JFK failed in his bid (1956) for the Democratic vice-presidential nomination; in 1960 he became the youngest man, and first Catholic US President. This was all ended prematurely on November 22nd 1963 in Dallas to the bullet of an assassin.
President Kennedy’s visit to Texas in November 1963 had been in plans almost a year before it actually happened.Kennedy chose to visit Dallas for various reasons: to help generate more presidential campaign funds in advance of the November 1964 presidential election; to begin his campaign for re-election; and, as the Kennedy had barely won Texas in the 1960 elections, to help solve the problems of several of the leading Texas Democratic Party members who were fighting politically amongst themselves and Kennedy personally enjoyed public appearances and always reportedly looked forward to meeting the public. Also “Kennedy had been pressing Governor John Connolly for months to arrange a dinner with rich Texan Donors[6]” It was planned that JFK would travel from Love Field airport in a limousine through downtown Dallas to give a speech at the Dallas Trade Mart.
The trip to Texas began when the President and Mrs. Kennedy left from the White House by helicopter at 10:45 am on November 21, 1963 Andrews AFB. They took the Presidential plane, Air Force One, at 11 a.m., arriving at San Antonio at 1:30 p.m. Here the president was greeted by Vice President Johnson and Governor Connolly. Later that day he flew to Houston and drove through the town in the same limousine he was assassinated in. Kennedy went to Rice University Stadium and made a speech and attended “a dinner in honour of U.S. Representative Albert Thomas.[7]” On the morning of the 22nd of November he addressed a crowd in a parking lot. That day after clearance due to bad weather the president and his party arrived at Love Air Field at 11.40am.
On his arrival, JFK was warmly greeted by the people of Dallas. When the motorcade arrived in Dealey Plaza it turned right from Main Street to Houston Street and it later turned onto Elm Street passing the Schoolbook Depository Building, where the probable assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was situated at the time of the assassination. When the Presidential limousine passed the depository in Dealey Plaza and continued down Elm Street, shots were fired at it; most eyewitnesses recall three shots being fired. After the first shot many people didn’t react as they though it may have been a back fire from the car.
“As President Kennedy waved to the crowds on his right, a shot entered his upper back, penetrated his neck, and exited his throat.[8]” The president then fell forward and to the left where his wife Jackie held him in concern. Texas Governor John Connally, sitting with his wife in front of the Kennedys in the limousine, was also injured by an assassin’s bullet; the bullet entered his back and exited his chest finally lodging itself in his right wrist. The last and most damaging shot is the fatal one that took place in front of the “John Neely Bryan north pergola concrete structure.[9]” A large hole was shot out of the president’s head splattering blood and tissue around the surrounding area. Here they rushed to the nearest hospital, this being Parkland Memorial Hospital, North Dallas.
Here, Kennedy was treated in Trauma Room I although on arrival it was established he had no chance of survival due to the head shot. At 1:00 p.m, after all heart activity had ceased and after a priest administered the last rites, the President was pronounced dead. Doctors had said there was no chance of saving his life. Governor Connally was also taken to emergency surgery, where he has two operations.
Just after 2.00 p.m JFK’s body was taken from Parkland in a bronze casket and driven to Love Air Field and loaded on to Air Force where it was to be taken back to Washington D.C for forensic examination. On Air Force I the Vice-President Johnson who was also riding in the Dallas motorcade became President of the United States due to Kennedy’s death and at 2:38 p.m. Mr. Johnson took an oath and was sworn in as the 36th U.S President.
The autopsy of JFK was performed in the Bethesda Naval Hospital at about 8pm – 11pm. The three pathologists agreed that the fatal wound for JFK was the head shot which had “Entered Kennedy’s head through a small hole in the scalp in the rear of the president’s head, on the right hand side’…. with a final exit of this missile, or fragments of it, through a large lateral defect in the right parietal region of the skull over the right ear.[10]” It was also reported that a second missile entered Kennedy’s upper back above the shoulder blade, passed through the strap muscles at the base of his neck, bruising the upper tip of the right lung without puncturing it, then exiting the front (anterior) neck[11]”
JFK’s funeral took place on the 25th of November. Representatives from up to 90 countries attended his funeral. After his funeral he was taken by Military Caisson to Arlington National Cemetery where he was laid to rest, “Although some members of the family wished to bury him in Brookline, Massachusetts, JFK’s birthplace, Jackie insisted on Arlington Cemetery[12]”
There were many official investigations carried out after the assassination of John. F Kennedy such as the investigations carried out by the FBI and the Dallas Police. But the most famous and controversial is known as the Warren Report. This was established by Lyndon B. Johnson. This commission established that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman involved in the assassination. These theories have been challenged frequently.

“Kennedy’s death shocked the country more than any other event since the December 1941 attack of Pearl Harbor.[13]” Some people say that, the dark day of November 23rd is the day that America lost its innocence.” However traumatic Lincoln’s assassination, the four years of civil war bloodletting, which took 62’000 lives, somewhat muted the horror of losing the nation’s leader[14]” People stared at the television for days in astonishment that their beloved president was gunned down maliciously, the debate still rages on whether we’re being told the full truth to JFK’s assassination and it won’t be until 2012 until we do find out. Depending on what story you believe this event proves the American government isn’t as perfect as they make themselves out to be and the question is still asked “Where were you when JFK was assassinated?”


 

[1] John F. Kennedy @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JFK
[2] John F. Kennedy an Unfinished Life by Robert Dallek
[3] Seymour M. Hersh; The Dark Side of Camelot, Page: 14
[4] John F. Kennedy @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JFK
[5] JFK @ http://history1900s.about.com
[6] Robert Dallek ; An Unfinished Life, page: 691
[7] JFK @ http://www.jfk-assassination.de/warren/wcr/page42.php
[8] JFK @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_jfk
[9] Assassination of JFK @ http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/
[10] Assassination @ http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/medical.htm#autopsy
[11] JFK @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_F._Kennedy_assassination
[12] Robert Dallek; An Unfinished Life, page: 696
[13] Robert Dallek; An Unfinished Life, page: 694
[14] Robert Dallek; An Unfinished Life, page 694