Today in History: Assassination of President John F. Kennedy

by Alex Caldwell

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas while riding in his presidential motorcade through Dealey Plaza.

The Kennedy’s disembarked from Air Force One in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 planning to speak at a local trade market.

President Kennedy traveled to Texas in November of 1963 to begin campaign efforts for his re-election the following year. There was a rift among leaders in the Texas Democrat Party, particularly Gov. John Connally and Sen. Ralph Yarborough. Kennedy worried a divided party would hurt his re-election chances in the state that narrowly won him the presidency, and planned a two-day trip to Texas with First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy to heal the party’s divide and rally his supporters.

Kennedy criss-crossed the state, appearing with Vice President Lyndon Johnson, Gov. Connally, and Sen. Yarborough, during events and speeches throughout San Antonio, Houston, and Fort Worth during his first day of the trip. On November 22, the Kennedy’s arrived at Dallas Love Field airport and entered a convertible limousine with Gov. Connally and his wife.

Secret Service agent Clint Hill jumped onto the back of the presidential motorcade to shield Jackie Kennedy’s body from gunfire.

The presidential motorcade began driving to the Trade Mart where Kennedy was scheduled to speak. The limousine drove through crowds of people lining the streets of Dealey Plaza at 12:30 p.m. As the car passed by the Texas Book Depository, gunshots were suddenly fired at the president. Kennedy was hit in the neck and the head, and Connally was hit in the back. Vice President Johnson’s motorcade, a few hundred yards behind the president’s, sped through the plaza while a secret service agent jumped on top of him to shield him from the ongoing gunfire.

Johnson was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital where Kennedy was admitted. President Kennedy was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival, and Gov. Connally, though seriously wounded, survived. Johnson was driven to Air Force One, and alongside a blood-covered Jackie Kennedy, was sworn in as the 36th President of the United States.

Vice President Johnson was sworn in as president aboard Air Force One shortly after the death of President Kennedy.

Lee Harvey Oswald shot the president using a rifle from a sixth-story corner window at the Texas Book Depository, a place he had recently began working. His supervisor reported him missing from work that day, and another employee spotted Oswald bringing a large brown paper bag to work filled with, what Oswald told him, were curtain rods. Shortly after the shooting, police officer J.D. Tippit spotted Oswald from his patrol car in a residential neighborhood. After exchanging words, Tippit exited his car before he was shot four times by Oswald.

Oswald was later spotted sneaking into a movie theater without paying, and the ticket clerk alerted the authorities. Police arrived to the theater and arrested Oswald, who attempted to draw a handgun before being restrained.

Lee Harvey Oswald was shot and killed by Jack Ruby on November 24, 1963 while being transferred to the county jail.

Oswald was charged with the murders of Kennedy and Tippit, though he denied their murders. On November 24, 1963, Oswald was shot and killed by Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner, while being transferred to the county jail. Ruby claimed that he killed Oswald because he was distraught over Kennedy’s assassination. Ruby was convicted of Oswald’s murder, and died in prison four years later while awaiting trial.

The Warren Commission investigated the assassination for ten months before concluding that Oswald assassinated Kennedy and acted alone. However, their findings have been subject to scrutiny, as many witnesses of the assassination reported hearing other gunshots besides the ones fired from the book depository. The U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations found that there was a high probability that at least two gunmen, including Oswald, fired at Kennedy, though this finding was later negated by acoustic experts.

The John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame in Arlington National Cemetery is the grave cite in which President Kennedy, Jaqueline Kennedy, and their son John F. Kennedy Jr. are buried. President Kennedy’s brothers, Joseph, Robert, and Edward, are buried there as well.

President Kennedy, alongside Mrs. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy Jr. are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. His brothers Joseph, Robert and Edward, are buried at the grave site as well.

References

“November 22, 1963: Death of the President.” November 22, 1963: Death of the President | JFK Library. Accessed November 16, 2021. https://www.jfklibrary.org/learn/about-jfk/jfk-in-history/november-22-1963-death-of-the-president.

“The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection.” National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives and Records Administration. Accessed November 16, 2021. https://www.archives.gov/research/jfk.

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