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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy

Recently in history class, I have studied the subject of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. This is a subject that has been debated from various perspectives over the years. These next paragraphs serve only to explain what did happen that day and not speculate on anything else.

First, one needs to get the setting for the day and places in mind. November 22, 1963, started out as your average cool, sunny day. President John F. Kennedy had flown to Texas to smooth over relations between Conservative Governor John B. Connally, Liberal Senator Ralph W. Yarborough, and Liberal Activist Don Yarborough. After stopping in Fort Worth, President Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline flew into Dallas, landing at Love Field Airport. The projected path of the motorcade was along an eleven-mile route through Dallas, after which the President was slated to speak at a luncheon, with leaders of the business and civic communities in attendance. At 11:50 AM, the motorcade left Love Field Airport on its way toward downtown Dallas.

As the motorcade and Secret Service car drove through Dealey Plaza, the President's car was greeted with throngs of enthusiastic supporters jumping at the chance to see him. Then the unexpected happened. As the motorcade turned onto Elm Street and passed the Texas School Book Depository, gunfire rang out. The first shot tore through President Kennedy's neck and struck Governor Connally in the back, stopping in his left thigh. As the motorcade accelerated, a second shot was fired. This shot blew off the entire right side of President Kennedy's head, emitting a huge mist of brain matter and blood. The motorcade sped up to 80 MPH en route to Parkland Hospital.

Upon his arrival at Parkland Hospital, doctors immediately went to work. Though President Kennedy still had a faint heartbeat, it quickly faded. The doctors' efforts at reviving him proved futile, and at 12:49 PM, Fathers Oscar Huber and James Thompson performed last rites. Governor John Connally was stabilized and sent to surgery. He was doing well and survived. At 1 PM CST, after the administration of last rites, President Kennedy was pronounced dead. He was 46 years old. Shortly thereafter, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was evacuated and rushed to the safety of Air Force One, where he was sworn in as President at 2:38 PM CST. Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested and charged with Kennedy's assassination.

At the time of his assassination, Kennedy was the second youngest president(Theodore Roosevelt was younger) and had served only two years and ten months. The events in Dallas ended his time in office and made him the fourth president to be assassinated in office. What we do know of these horrible events, if nothing else, is this: Whoever pulled this off has the blood of a president on his hands.

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