The 59th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas brought hundreds to Dealey Plaza to offer 59 seconds of silence, to sell 59 years of conspiracy theories and books and to see the spot that changed the city’s image forever.
But, in the parking lot of the Sixth Floor Museum which welcomed a flood of visitors on this anniversary, music briefly broke through all that noise.
On this day in history, Nov. 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy — the 35th president of the United States — was assassinated while riding in an open-car motorcade in downtown Dallas, Texas.
The shocking event of 59 years ago happened near the end of JFK’s third year as president.
Riding in the same car as Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy was Texas Gov. John B. Connally, as well as Connally’s wife, Nellie Connally.
That same day, the suspect in the shooting, Lee Harvey Oswald, was arrested. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as president that day as well as the stunned nation absorbed the blow of so suddenly and violently losing its elected president.
“Bullets struck the president’s neck and head and he slumped over toward Mrs. Kennedy. The governor was shot in his back.”
Right after the shooting, “the car sped off to Parkland Memorial Hospital just a few minutes away,” the JFK Library’s website also notes.
“But little could be done for the president. A Catholic priest was summoned to administer the last rites, and at 1:00 p.m. John F. Kennedy was pronounced dead.”
Gov. Connally had been seriously wounded but later recovered.
“The president’s body was brought to Love Field and placed on Air Force One,” the website also notes.
“Before the plane took off, a grim-faced Lyndon B. Johnson stood in the tight, crowded compartment and took the oath of office, administered by U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Hughes.”
Then, on Sunday morning, Nov. 24, “Oswald was scheduled to be transferred from police headquarters to the county jail. Viewers across America watching the live television coverage suddenly saw a man aim a pistol and fire at point-blank range.”
Adds the website of the caught-on-camera crime, “The assailant was identified as Jack Ruby, a local nightclub owner. Oswald died two hours later at Parkland Hospital.”
That same day, President Kennedy’s “flag-draped casket was moved from the White House to the Capitol on a caisson drawn by six [gray] horses, accompanied by one riderless black horse,” the library also notes.
“Crowds lined Pennsylvania Avenue and many wept openly as the caisson passed.”
“During the 21 hours that the president’s body lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda, about 250,000 people filed by to pay their respects.”
On Monday, Nov. 25, 1963, Kennedy was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.
“The funeral was attended by heads of state and representatives from more than 100 countries, with untold millions more watching on television. Afterward, at the grave site, Mrs. Kennedy and her husband’s brothers, Robert and Edward, lit an eternal flame.”
Any American alive at the time and watching can likely still recall one of the “most indelible images of the day”: the salute by a young child to his father (John F. Kennedy Jr. was only three years old at the time), plus “daughter Caroline kneeling next to her mother at the president’s bier, and the extraordinary grace and dignity shown by Jacqueline Kennedy,” writes the JFK library’s website.
The murky circumstances of his death have since spawned a federal investigation and numerous conspiracy theories — which will hopefully be explained when the full batch of JFK files are released.
Last year, the Biden administration once again delayed releasing records related to the assassination that occurred 59 years ago. The full records are set to be disclosed on December 15.
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