The assassination of JFK has gone down as one of the darkest days in American history and cast a shadow across the city of Dallas for decades. Ever since that fateful day people have flocked here to mourn President Kennedy’s death and try to make sense of what happened. In an effort to help people come to terms with the tragedy the city created the sixth floor museum here in the very location the president’s killer committed the crime.
The Dealey Plaza Historic District was named a National Historic Landmark in 1993 to preserve Dealey Plaza, street rights-of-way, and buildings and structures by the plaza visible from the assassination site, that have been identified as witness locations or as possible assassin locations Pierce Allman, the first reporter to broadcast from the Texas School Book Depository on November 22, 1963, a local radio station at the time, and witnessed the horrifying event first hand. Here is his interview with Zay Harding:
Who was JFK?
JFK, or John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was the 35th President of the United States of America. He entered office in 1961 and served until his assassination in 1963.
He was born in Brookline, Massachusetts on May 29, 1917. He spent a short amount of time enrolled at Princeton University and later enrolled at Harvard College. He graduated from Harvard in 1940 with a Bachelor of Science degree in International Affairs.
As the Second World War continued overseas, JFK attempted to join the Army, but was rejected for medical disqualifications related to lower back problems. With the help of military connections, JFK enlisted into the Navy in 1941. He volunteered for the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Training Center and would be assigned to Panama before duty in the Pacific Theater earning the rank of lieutenant.
It was at this time that Kennedy encountered a life-defining moment. A Japanese destroyer hit the boat JFK was aboard. Kennedy gathered his men in the water and voted on whether to surrender or fight. The men would not surrender and swam to a small island. JFK endured a back injury whilst towing an injured fellow crew member by gripping the life jacket strap with his teeth. Not only did he do this once, but twice to move to another island in which the men could be rescued. JFK’s actions earned him a Navy and Marine Corps Medal amongst other honours. He would continue his service in the Navy until 1944. In 1945 he would be honourably discharged.
Born into a politician-oriented family in Massachusetts it was no surprise that he accepted the role as the family’s next politician after the death of his eldest brother, Joe, in the Second World War. He started his career as a member of the House of Representatives for Massachusetts and later moved to the Senate before running for President against and defeating Richard Nixon in the 1960 election under the ballot of the Democratic Party.
Why was JFK in Dallas Texas?
JFK was in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 to attend a meeting with civic and business leaders of the city. The trip was also used to campaign for the next Presidential Election the following year in 1964.
Why was there a motorcade?
Kennedy would motorcade through Dallas to give him exposure to the people of Dallas thereby increasing his popularity with voters.
What were the plans of the motorcade?
JFK would arrive and take a 10 mile journey winding from the Dallas Love Field Airport to the Dallas Trade Mart for his meeting. The plans of the route had been mapped out by the Secret Service and published in newspapers days before the event for spectators to prepare themselves for the passing of the President.
Three cars would be used in the motorcade. The first car would carry police officials. The second car would carry JFK and his wife (in a bubble top/ covering) along with Bill Greer (the driver), Roy Kellerman, Governor John Connally, and Nellie Connally. The last car would carry other officials and secret service agents with an AR-15 rifle. The entire drive would only last 45 minutes from start to finish.
Supposedly, John F. Kennedy’s motorcade through Dallas, which was to go directly down Main Street and onto the Stemmons Freeway, was changed at the last minute to turn of Houston Street, and then Elm Street.
Why is this supposed to be sinister? Because the route down Elm Street takes the limo near the Grassy Knoll, where a shooter was supposedly stationed. It also takes the motorcade near other buildings (such as the Dal-Tex) were shooters could be hidden, supposedly creating a “triangulation of crossfire.”
What happened in Dealey Plaza?
The Presidential motorcade was running 10 minutes behind schedule because of the large crowds and two unexpected stops commanded by JFK. At the last minute before the start of the motorcade a decision would be made that JFK would ride without a bubble top/ covering to protect him.
At 12:30 p.m., the motorcade entered Dealey Plaza and turned left onto Elm Street and passed the Texas School Book Depository. Shots rang out across the plaza. Three shots had been fired at the President.
Many people riding with the President did not realize that a first shot was fired. Governor Connally, a man accustomed to guns by military duty and an active hunting lifestyle, recognized the shots as a rifle. Within a few seconds Connally was shot through his upper right back. That bullet would enter from his back and tear through his ribs shattering his fifth chest rib, continuing through his chest. He also received a fractured wrist and bullet injuries to his left inner thigh. It is believed that his injuries were sustained from the same bullet that hit the President.
JFK was shot through the neck and head and had collapsed toward Mrs. Kennedy. The last bullet to strike JFK was a fatal blow to his head. The Connally’s recollected hearing Mrs. Kennedy exclaim, “I have his brains in my hand!” Immediately before the bullet struck the President, Secret Service Agent Clint Hill had leapt from the third vehicle and ran to cover the President and Mrs. Kennedy with his body.
What happened next?
The Presidential limo sped off to Parkland Memorial Hospital. The hospital could not save the President because of the severity of the injuries he sustained. A Catholic Priest was called to the hospital to perform JFK’s last rites. By 1:00 p.m., only thirty minutes after the Dealey Plaza gunfire, the President was pronounced dead. Governor Connally would recover from his injuries that he had endured from the shooting. By 2:30 p.m., the President’s body was aboard Air Force One. At 2:38 p.m. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as President aboard the aircraft by U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Hughes.
Who was Lee Harvey Oswald?
Lee Harvey Oswald had been a U.S. Marine and abandoned his allegiance for the Soviet Union in 1959. In 1962 he returned to the United States. Oswald was a new employee of the Texas School Book Depository. The shots fired at the President had come from the Texas School Book Depository.
Workers in the office were questioned, a rifle and bullet shells were found, and Lee Harvey Oswald was no longer in the office, which made him a questionable suspect. He was arrested 45 minutes after the assassination of the President in Dallas for the murder of police officer J.D. Tippit.
According to investigations Lee Harvey Oswald was the sniper shooter who assassinated JFK, but before a trial could ensue Oswald was assassinated.
What happened at the assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald?
On Sunday November 25, 1963, two days after the assassination of JFK, Oswald was to be moved from the police headquarters to the county jail. During his transfer, live on television, a man who was later identified as Jack Ruby, shot Oswald point blank with a pistol. Oswald was sent to Parkland Hospital (the same hospital as JFK) and died two hours later of his injuries.
Who was Jack Ruby?
Jack Ruby was a Dallas night club owner. He was the man that assassinated Lee Harvey Oswald during his transfer to the county jail. Therefore, an official trial in Oswald’ defence never occurred.
What are the conspiracy theories?
Many people question the findings of the Warren Commission, an official investigation appointed by Lyndon B. Johnson on the matters of JFK’s assassination.
It has been theorized that the second shooter hid in a spot now known as the Grassy Knoll. People believe that Oswald acted as a distraction from the fatal shooter hidden by the fence on the Grassy Knoll.
The Warren Commission’s official statements of the investigation confirmed that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. In 1979, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations reported on the circumstances of JFK’s assassination and concluded that the original investigation was faulty. Based on eye witness accounts, the fact that there was no trial for Oswald because of his assassination, and the “high probability” of a second shooter the question still remains if Oswald actually acted alone. And if Oswald did not act alone who else was in on the conspiracy: men acting on their own account, Lyndon B. Johnson- the Vice President, and/or any other number of government officials?
Weird coincidences between two assassinated Presidents, Abraham Lincoln and JFK:
- JFK was elected to Congress in 1946 exactly 100 years after Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress.
- JFK was elected President in 1960 exactly 100 years after Abraham Lincoln was elected Present in 1860.
- Lincoln and JFK dealt with African American issues during their presidencies. Lincoln passed the Emancipation Proclamation that freed slaves. JFK reported on the issues of the Civil Rights movement.
- Both men were assassinated by a shot to the back of the head whilst with their wives.
- President Lincoln was shot in Ford Theatre. President Kennedy was shot in a Lincoln automobile made by the company Ford.
- The assassins, John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald, were both known by their full name.
- Booth shot Lincoln in a theatre and hid in a warehouse. Oswald shot JFK from a warehouse and hid in a theatre.
- Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials.
- Both men lost children whilst living in the White House.
- Both men had Vice President’s with the last name Johnson- Andrew Johnson and Lyndon Johnson- and both of these men were born 100 years apart from 1808-1908.
By Casey Thompson