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Assassination Of John F. Kennedy

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The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy

Within six seconds on November 22, 1963, three shots were fired. Seated in an open limousine, President John F. Kennedy was killed by two of the shots, which also wounded Texas Governor John Connally. Kennedy was the youngest president to be elected and a man people either loved or hated. There was a fascination about this young First Family too, a family which created an image that many American families yearned for. As a result, the assassination came as a surprise and left many people shocked, in sadness and confusion. As the investigations began, the prime suspect in the case was murdered, which led to another list of questions. People wanted an answer, but the aftermath following the assassination led to no conclusion. Researchers still wonder: Who killed John F. Kennedy? Facts have pointed to Lee Harvey Oswald as the murderer of the President. There have been many theories and assumptions following the presidential assassination, but with the limited video footage and information available, investigators have formulated only educated guesses.

Upon the President’s arrival in Texas, there was already speculation about his safety. The political atmosphere in the state was very conservative and the right wing hated President Kennedy’s involvement in the Vietnam War. In Robert Stone’s documentary, it laid foundation that, in the previous October, the United State’s ambassador to the United Nations, Adlai Stevenson, had been verbally abused by Texas citizens (Stone, Oswald’s Ghost). The presidential administration was uneasy about the visit; however, it was prepared to take extra precaution, since the President needed to make the trip to Texas to gain support and raise funds for the 1964 re-election. During the visit, it had been unanimously decided, if there was enough time, there would be a motorcade to downtown Dallas, giving an opportunity for the public to see the President. Special Agent Winston G. Lawson and Forrest V. Sorrels were the two Secret Service agents responsible for the Dallas visit and the two who crafted the motorcade route. The Warren Commission reported that with the excitement of the impending Presidential visit to Dallas, the local newspapers, the Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Times-Herald described the trip in detail. These papers provided the precautions that the Secret Service members were taking, the background information to the president’s visit and most importantly, the motorcade route (Nizer, 31). Even with the extra protection and the investigations of potential enemies, the President was traveling in an open vehicle, a clear target for any sniper.

At 12:30 p.m. as President John F. Kennedy’s car approached Dealey Plaza and the Texas School Book Depository, shots were fired at the President. The first shot was believed to be a firecracker or the exhaust out of the motorcycle, and it did not harm anyone. The second bullet resulted in minor injuries to the President as it entered his back, through his neck, and also went through Governor Connally’s back, chest, right wrist and left thigh, leaving him seriously wounded. It was the final bullet, going straight through Kennedy’s skull that had a large impact, splattering out blood and brain tissue. Jacqueline Kennedy and Idanell Connelly both seated next to their husbands, were not hurt during the motorcade. Immediately the driver rushed to the Parkland Memorial Hospital. The doctor noted that Kennedy was unresponsive and had a lost a sizeable portion from his skull. “At 1:00 p.m., on November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was pronounced dead” (Bugliosi, 384). The bullet caused damage to Governor John Connally’s lung, but he was able to survive the all the damage to his body. In the midst of chaos and Kennedy’s death, an autopsy needed to be performed.

After the president’s treatment in the hospital, he was transported to the hospital in Bethesda for an autopsy. From the Warren Commison, the autopsy revealed two head wounds from the third bullet. One hole in the skull was one-fourth of an inch by five-eighths of an inch. The second measured about five inches in diameter: this part of the skull was completely missing and revealed brain tissue. From the second bullet, the examiners found injuries on the back of Kennedy’s neck and near his spine. It was found that the same bullet was able to travel through his neck and into the body of Governor Connally’s body (Nizer, 59). While doctors and examiners were carefully examining Kennedy’s body, the Secret Service was busily searching the crowd to find the source of the shooting immediately following the murder.

The Secret Service speculated that whoever shot the President had a clear view and a slow moving target since the limousine traveled at ten miles per hour. Since the Dealey Plaza was not a popular location on the motorcade route, there was not a great deal of press on scene so there was very little video coverage of the event. A newspaper article from Four Days in November said that some witnesses in vehicles in front of the President reported hearing firings from the right hand side and behind them. Some spectators on scene believed they saw a rifle being fired at the President from the window of the Texas School Book Depository Building and others claimed to witness seeing a rifle after the assassination. There were three employees who were watching the motorcade from the fifth floor that say they heard the firings directly above them. Howard L. Brennan also provided important information, stating that he watched the whole procession and saw a man on the sixth floor of the building, evidently, when he took his second and third shot (Kihss, Semple, 45-50). With the recollections of the various witnesses to supplement it, the film by Abraham Zapruder has allowed for a visual of the assassination. Some people on scene believed that the shots came from different locations; however, there were no testimonies of seeing a gunman at any other location besides the Depository Building.

When the evidence traced the sniper to the Texas School book Depository Building, the Secret Service surrounded and investigated the scene on the sixth floor of the building. Excerpts from the Warren Commission reveal that the Dallas police found three bullet cartridges and a rifle lying on the ground. In total, there was one bullet near Governor Connally and two were found in the presidential limousine. The experts agreed that the all three were fired from the Depository building. Soon the evidence all pointed to Lee Harvey Oswald as the man all witness described. He was reported missing by his supervisor and as Officer J.D. Tippit was



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