At 12:30 p.m. just as President John F. Kennedy’s limousine passed the Texas School Book Depository shoots were fired. These fatal shots struck President John F. Kennedy and Governor John Connally, but only Connally would survive. The shots fired on November 22, 1963 would kill one of the nation’s great leaders President John F. Kennedy and create a lasting mark in the nation’s history (Schuster 1). President John F. Kennedy’s assassination influenced American society and politics during the 1960’s.
As the United States moved into the 1960’s, John F. Kennedy’s presidency defined the nation. John F. Kennedy grew up in a wealthy family filled with love and guidance from his parents and siblings. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the second son of Joseph Patrick Kennedy, a successful businessman, and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, was born on May 29, 1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts. Kennedy had eight other siblings, three brothers and five sisters (Shea 1). Kennedy attended various schools and universities while growing up, but he first attended Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut. Kennedy then transferred to Choate Academy in Wallingford, Connecticut where he was voted “most likely to succeed” by his fellow classmates. In 1936, Kennedy enrolled in Harvard University and majored in government and international relations. Kennedy also attended Stanford University for business, but dropped out in six months (Wilentez 1). In 1940 after graduating from Harvard University, Kennedy enlisted in the United States Army and became the Lieutenant to South Pacific (Shea 1).
John F. Kennedy’s interest in politics began while he was still a young man. Kennedy first became interested in politics when he traveled to England to visit his father, the U.S. Ambassador to England (Shea 3). In 1946, Kennedy was elected to a seat in the Massachusetts 11th Congressional District in which he served three terms. Kennedy also became a U.S. senator in 1952 (Shea 4). In 1960, John F. Kennedy was nominated as the Democratic candidate for the 1960 Presidential election. Kennedy ran against Republican candidate Richard Nixon with his “New Frontier” campaign (Wilentez 1). Kennedy won the election and became the 35th President of the United States on January 20, 1961. By becoming President of the United States, Kennedy broke many barriers because he was the youngest and first Roman Catholic president (Shea 4).
In his inaugural speech, Kennedy set the tone of his presidency by telling Americans to “‘Ask not what your country can do for you- ask what you can do for your country’ ” (Wilentez 1).
Kennedy’s political goals included making scientific discoveries, improving education and employment, and spreading democracy (Shea 4). During Kennedy’s presidency, minimum wage was raised from $1 to $1.25, and the Peace Crops was established which allowed American volunteers to go help in underdeveloped countries. Kennedy also aided the Civil rights Movement by integrating schools and pushing Congress to pass an equal rights legislation
Kennedy traveled to Dallas, Texas in November 1963 to campaign for his 1964 reelection (Schuster 1; Wilentez 1). The trip to Dallas was planned by Governor Connally and Kenneth O’ Donnell and was publicized in local newspapers on November 19, 1963 (“Report” 2). Kennedy’s schedule for November 22 included the motorcade in downtown Dallas, a luncheon speech at the Trade Mart, and then to a Democratic fundraiser, followed by a trip to the Texas ranch of Johnson (“Report” 1). Kennedy’s motorcade including sixteen cars, a dozen motorcycles, and three buses was scheduled to travel through downtown Dallas to the Trade Mart. The first car was occupied by the Dallas police and was followed by six motorcycles. Third was an unmarked car of the Dallas Police Department and Kennedy’s 1961 Lincoln Continental Convertible was fourth (Krajicek 2). Kennedy rode in the rear seat on the right side alongside his wife, Jackie Kennedy (Wilentez 1). Governor John Connally, on the right, and his wife, Nellie Connally rode in the jump seat in front of Kennedy. Kennedy’s limousine was driven by Secret Service Agent William Greer who was accompanied by agent Roy Kellerman. Behind Kennedy’s car was a car filled with eight armed Secret Service Agents (Krajicek 2). The motorcade was scheduled to leave from Main Street, pass thru the Elm and Houston Street intersection and travel on Stemmons Freeway to the Trade Mart (“Report” 2). As the motorcade passed the Texas Schoolbook Depository Building at 1230 hours shots were fired. The first shot struck Kennedy in the throat and the second shot wounded Connally in the back (Schuster 1). The third and final shot wounded Kennedy on the right side of his skull (Krajicek 2). After the shoots were fired, Kennedy and Connally were immediately taken to Parkland Hospital.
As Kennedy was being transported to the hospital, Jackie held Kennedy (Wilentez 1).
At Parkland Hospital, doctors noticed “irregular breathing movements” and no pulse beat. Doctors noted the two wounds on Kennedy: a large wound in the head and a ¼ inch wound in the lower neck. At 1:00p.m. Kennedy was pronounced dead with last rites being performed by the priest (“Report” 4).
There were several eye witness accounts during the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
One witness stated that they saw shoots being fired from a grassy knoll. Another witness declared that they saw men with rifles before the motorcade arrived (Schuster 1). Howard L. Brennan claimed that he saw a white male in his early thirties about 165 pounds and 5 foot 10 inches, on the sixth floor of the Schoolbook Building with a rifle (“Report” 5).
Lee Oswald Harvey was determined as the assassin of President John F. Kennedy.
Oswald’s background was suspicious. Oswald was expelled from the United States Marines and also tried to become a Soviet citizen. Oswald was also a member of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, supporters of Fidel Castro (Wilentez 2). Oswald claimed to have been eating lunch in the “Domino Room” of the Texas Schoolbook Depository (Schuster 1). Oswald was twenty-four years old, 5 foot 9 inches, and 150 pounds (Krajicek 4). Oswald was described by his co-workers as being quiet and a loner (“Report” 7). After the assassination, Oswald returned to his rooming house where he gathered his belongings and left. J.D. Tippit of the Dallas Police Department was out patrolling and realized that Oswald matched the assassin’s description.
Tippit pulled up to Oswald and got out. Just as Tippit stepped out of the vehicle, Oswald shot him four times, killing him instantly (“Report” 6). A witness, Johnny Brewer, saw Oswald run into the Texas Theater and the box office clerk called the police. Oswald arrested in the Texas Theater by more than a dozen officers (Krajicek 4). Oswald was charged with Tippit’s and President Kennedy’s murder on November 22, 1963 (“Report” 6). Oswald was questioned for twelve hours over a period of two days by Caption J.W. Fritz. Nine witnesses identified Oswald as Tippit’s murder (Krajicek 5).