The Assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 22 November 1963, Dallas, Texas

So much has been written and said about this historic event that it may seem inappropriate to believe it worth saying more. However, I have not yet found any single source which in my view answers all the questions, nor do they put forward a totally convincing account of what happened and why.

New generations today, those who cannot answer the question, "where were you when you heard of President Kennedy’s assassination?", need to be aware that the official version of events, which is now immortalized in so many historical works, is full of inaccuracies and obfuscations.

Having read much of what has been said, and watched so many films and TV programmes and listened to so much said by those who have made it their life’s ambition to study the event, I have reached my own conclusions which seem to me to be sufficiently straightforward to be readily acceptable.

In this account I have looked at all the issues as I have seen them, given my personal perspective on the events and my account of what I really believe happened in Dealey Plaza on that day. I have not religiously tabulated my sources, nor have I given detailed explanation of the evidence I have relied on or discounted. The reader can draw their own conclusions of the validity of this piece and, although have no doubt there will be irrefutable evidence to disprove some aspect of it at least, I do know that much of it fits the available evidence well and does so without requiring a ridiculous stretch of the imagination.

The Visit to Dallas

President and Mrs Kennedy arrive in Dallas
President and Mrs Kennedy arrive at Love Field Airfield to greet the crowds and to begin their visit to Dallas.

Kennedy had started his campaign for re-election. Following a term in office characterised by some of the most alarming events in recent US history, including the Cuban Missile Crisis, by embarrassing and controversial events such as the invasion of the Bay of Pigs and a thorough campaign against organised crime and the established government institutions such as the CIA and FBI, Kennedy was ready to capitalise on his popularity to carry a second term.

JFK and his glamorous wife, Jacqueline, were the nearest thing the US people could claim to royalty. They were hugely popular and had declared a new generation of openness with their people using television to share their family values with the American people. However, as popular as he was in some quarters he was equally unpopular in others, particularly amongst those that branded him a communist and appeaser. The US was divided, but there was little doubt his support would carry him through the next election with a much improved majority on the 1960 result.

Presidential Limousine

Kennedy was visiting the South, along with his Texan Vice President, Lyndon Johnson. The crowds had been wildly enthusiastic as they arrived at Love Field and throughout their motorcade route through the city of Dallas. As they were approaching the final part of the route, and before joining the Stemmons Freeway to take them on to their luncheon engagement at the Trade Mart, shots rang out.

The President grabbed at his throat and his wife realised something untoward had happened. Those in the motorcade more familiar with firearms recognised a rifle shot and looked around to see from where it had come. Further shots were fired and Kennedy was struck in the head, violently pushing him backwards in his seat.

The car accelerated, Mrs Kennedy climbed up on the back of the car and as it drove away, her personal body guard, Clint Hill, who had been riding the running board on the car behind, climbed on to the rear of the limousine, pushed Mrs Kennedy back into her seat and there clung on until the car arrived at Parkland Hospital.

After a half hour of emergency procedures, the doctors attending in Parkland’s trauma rooms declared the President dead. At the same time, the badly injured Governor Connally, who had been sitting in front of the President was operated upon for gunshot wounds. Although severely injured he was to survive.

Almost immediately, an unseemly argument took place between the local officials of the Texas Police Department and the FBI. Murder, even of a President, was a local state matter and not a federal matter. However, the FBI prevailed and they took the body away in Airforce One. Before departing, the new President, Lyndon Johnson, was sworn in on the aeroplane, with Mrs Kennedy, still in her blood-soaked clothes, standing beside him.

JFK’s body was flown back to Washington and taken to Bethesda Hospital in Maryland for autopsy by military doctors. His funeral took place the following week in Washington and his body now rests in Arlington Cemetery.

Walter Cronkite
Walter Cronkite makes the emotional announcement of President Kennedy's death.

Walter Cronkite makes the moving announcement of Kennedy's death.

Continue ->