The JFK Assassination (Fall 2012)
Throughout our nation’s history, there have been several assassinations and even more attempts on the lives of the Presidents of the United States. The deaths of Presidents Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy have impacted the history of our nation greatly. Considered to be the most controversial assassination of them all, John F. Kennedy was shot and killed on November 22, 1963. According to many people in the United States and around the world, JFK, the United State’s 35th President, is considered to be one of history’s greatest Presidents. His death was a tragic even for many in the United States, and a shock to the world. A large number of people know the event, but don’t know the details. To really get a grasp on what happened and how it happened, you would have to look at the events leading up to the assassination, what really happened on November 22 of 1963, and how the people in the United States reacted to it.
When President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s term ended in office, John F. Kennedy’s began. With the departure of his presidency, Eisenhower also left the Cold War into JFK’s hands. In Kennedy’s inaugural address, Kennedy turns to the cold war and requests that “both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction” (Kennedy, 1961). Kennedy’s role in the Cold and Vietnam War and the large amounts of decisions he had to make during it could have ultimately cost him his life on that fateful day in November. John F. Kennedy was a firm believer in the containment of Communism as well as a believer in the Domino Theory. The Cuban Missile Crisis was a big part of Kennedy’s presidency. America was close to going into a nuclear war with Russia and congress and many Americans preferred a military intervention rather than a blockade. Kennedy wanted to resolve this situation without the use of huge military aid and without bloodshed. Kennedy chose the blockade, a less dangerous way to resolve this. Some people believe that this wasn’t the right way to do it. “Kennedy’s rejection of Cold War politics was considered treasonous by forces in his own government” (Douglass 46). This could be an event that could have inspired someone to have ultimately assassinated Kennedy. During the Vietnam time, Kennedy made two important decisions during the period. He increased the amount of military advisers in Vietnam, and also supported the plan to overthrow the Diem government in Vietnam. This also could have served as a reason to kill him, maybe by someone who was pro-Communist, such as the real killer, Lee Harvey Oswald. John F. Kennedy was also a very strong supporter of the Civil Rights Movement. Kennedy vowed to end racial discrimination, and during his time in office, he appointed African Americans to some Federal positions. Kennedy also supported the freedom riders, supported the desegregation of schools, and tried to help fix the housing problem for African Americans. His views on the Civil Rights could have also led to his assassination as it did for Martin Luther King Jr.
The next elections were coming up, and John F. Kennedy was planning on running again for Presidency. JFK was very confident about his re-election and therefore was starting the next presidential campaign. Near the end of September, JFK traveled to nine different states to speak about his campaign. The aspects of his run in 1964 were education, world peace, national security, natural resources, and conservation efforts. At a meeting where the next election year was discussed, JFK emphasized how important it was to win Florida and Texas, and how he planned to visit both states in the following weeks. On November 21, John F. Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy boarded Air Force One to make their way down to Texas. A small group of extremists in Texas cause some political tensions, worrying JFK because the United States Ambassador to the United Nations was attacked about thirty days earlier when making a speech. However, Kennedy still found the importance of coming to Texas and making his appearance. The first city on his tour was San Antonio, then Houston where he recognized a Latin American Citizens Organization, then finally Fort Worth to end the day. After arriving to Dallas, John F. Kennedy and his wife were seated in the back of an open convertible, with Governor Connally and his wife in the front. The motorcade was to go along a ten-mile rout that would go through downtown of Dallas, to eventually end up to a Trade Mart where the speech was to take place. At around 12:30pm, the motorcade had passed the Texas School Book Depository Building in Dealey Plaza. Lee Harvey Oswald, a former marine, had supposedly shot three bullets from the sixth floor of the Depository building. One of the bullets hit and injured the Governor, while the other two bullets struck John F. Kennedy in the neck and skull. Immediately rushed over to Parkland Memorial Hospital in attempt to save the Presidents life, but all attempts failed and John F. Kennedy, age 46, was pronounced dead at around 1pm. Kennedy’s body was put on Air Force One where also the Vice President, Lyndon B. Johnson, was taking the oath of office for presidency. November 25th was to be acknowledged as the day of national mourning for John F. Kennedy. On that day thousands of people witnessed the transportation of the casket on a caisson lead by six grey horses and a rider less black horse. The funeral was similar to that of Abraham Lincoln’s funeral, due to the request of Mrs. Kennedy. On November 25th, 1963, John F. Kennedy was laid in Arlington National Cemetery.
About an hour after the President had been shot, Oswald also killed a policeman who was continuously questioning him. After that, Oswald was inside of a movie theatre, where he was charged with the murder of Police Officer J.D. Tippit, and President John F. Kennedy. Some people believe that his pro-Castro activities could have influenced the killing. Two days later, as Oswald was on his way to being transferred to a more secure jail, Jack ruby appeared out of the crowd, and shot and killed Oswald. Jack Ruby’s states his motives was anger for the Kennedy murder, but others believe that it was to keep Oswald from revealing a larger plot to the Kennedy murder. Although no one knows the true motives of Oswald, people can only wonder and assume what was really going on in Oswald’s mind, as well as the mind of Jack Ruby and his assassination.
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy left people in shock. People viewed Kennedy as a man who had great visions, such as racial equality, peace, social reform, and more. The role of the media brought this news to people’s lives, causing them to be more connected to something than ever before. Millions of people joined the nation in mourning of the fallen President and watched as the casket was being escorted. After Kennedy’s death, hundreds of conspiracy theories rose, such as people believing the driver committing the crime, to even Mrs. Kennedy doing it. This caused uncertainty of what really happened. Some people believe that the United States government was really behind the killing. No one will ever know for sure what happened, but people can only just wonder. Just like the 9/11 incident, citizens will always remember where they were and what they were doing when the President during the time was assassinated.
A day that won’t be forgotten to those who lived to witness it, or to those who study it, the John F. Kennedy assassination will live on for many years to come. The assassination is one of those events in history that will forever be controversial and hard to understand, but will also never be forgotten. Knowing the actions the Kennedy took before his assassination could help one understand why somebody would want to take his life. John F. Kennedy’s death on November 22nd is highly controversial on who actually committed it and the intentions, but for now, Lee Harvey Oswald is credited for the assassination of JFK, which shocked the world and put the country into mourning.
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