The never-ending who-done-it: the assassination of President Kennedy

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This age old question is often heard when something bad happens. From taking the last cookie to murdering a political figure, people are left pointing fingers and asking: who did it? This question is especially popular when considering the assassination of President Kennedy. After his death, the happenings of the event were questioned. Still today, 55 years later, even more questions arise. The unexpected death of President John F. Kennedy triggered the creation of conspiracy theories regarding the truth of the horrid event. After graduating from Harvard university, John Fitzgerald Kennedy began his love for the United States by joining the U.S. Navy. After his service, Kennedy returned home and entered the political world by becoming the Democratic Congressman of Boston and worked his way up to serve in the U.S. Senate in 1953. In the same year he married Jacqueline Bouvier who would bear him two children. Then in 1960, Kennedy decided to run for President of the United States. During the election of 1960, Kennedy, age 43, was looked at as “too young and inexperienced” to handle the responsibilities of being president by his opponent Richard Nixon( “John F. Kennedy Elected President”).

The primary issue discussed during the election was communist threats, being Cuba and the U.S.S.R. Kennedy gained popularity with his decision to remove Castro, Cuba’s dictator, and to rid the Caribbean of Communism unlike his opponent Nixon, who felt that by invading Cuba more problems would arise for America. Kennedy’s popular opinion gained supporters, and on 8 November 1960, he became the 35th President of the United States of America. Less than a year later, Kennedy was put under the pressure of the spread of communism and the outcome was the failure at The Bay of Pigs. with this failure, JFK looked incapable of running the U.S. However, this changed when a bigger problem erupted. On 16 October, JFK was informed that Cuba was in possession of ballistic missiles, supplied by the USSR, starting the Cuban Missile Crisis. Over the course of twelve days Americans and the world watched as the threat of a nuclear war approached, and America, Cuba, and the USSR waited for one another to make the first move. But after bracing for twelve days, Nikita Khrushchev, former prime minister of the USSR, sent a letter to Kennedy demanding all missiles be removed from Turkey, placed in 1956, and to not invade Cuba.

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Responding, Kennedy demanded as well that all missiles be removed from Cuba. On 28 October, 1962 the crisis came to an end and relief filled America. Praised by citizens and the government for his leadership, Kennedy found this to be the perfect time to start considering his reelection campaign focusing on how to gain cities that he lost during the 1960 election to the Republican Party (The Warren Commission). One of the cities being Dallas, Texas. While reelection was the reason he was in Dallas, Kennedy specifically visited Dallas to resolve controversies within the Democratic Party, and to show support to the American people by learning about the problems they were facing (The Warren Commission). While this campaign visit was seen as harmless, JFK’s visit turned into one of the most unforgettable events in American history.

Arriving on 22 November, 1963 at 11:38am, Mr and Mrs. Kennedy, joined by Governor Connally and his wife, began the 10-mile trip through Dallas. As the motorcade neared the end of the trip, around 12:30, Kennedy was struck by a bullet in the neck and head, as well as Connally who was punctured in the lung and wrist (“John F. Kennedy Assassinated”). Fleeing to Parkland Memorial Hospital, Kennedy was rushed into surgery in an attempt to save his life. Sadly, Kennedy was announced deceased at 1:00pm (“John F. Kennedy Assassinated”). As panic rang out across the US, Vice President Lyndon Johnson, in Dallas as well, was rushed to Air Force One as he waited for the deceased president and Mrs.Kennedy. Just 1 ½ hours after JFK was announced dead, Johnson became the 36th President of the United States of America aboard Air Force One (“John F. Kennedy Assassinated”) . Simultaneously, the city of Dallas was on high alert for the assassin responsible for the death of JFK.

With the accounts of people saying the shots came from the Texas Book Depository, along with the description of the shooter, dark-haired and Caucasian, officers were on the lookout for the killer (Waldron, 719). While out, Officer J.D. Tippit saw and questioned a man matching the description. Feeling threatened, the man opened fire on Tippit and fled to the movie theater down the road. Thirty minutes later, the man was arrested, this man was Lee Harvey Oswald. Not only found guilty for the murder of Tippit, Oswald matched the description of the assassin and was working at the Texas Book Depository at the time of the shooting. Arrested and interrogated, Oswald denied the claims of killing Kennedy, saying he was a “patsy” despite eyewitness accounts (Victor). This claim angered many supporters of the Kennedys, one being Jack Ruby. Seen as “distraught” after JFK’s assassination, Ruby decided to take matters into his own hands. While Oswald was being transferred from a city jail to a county jail, Ruby stepped out of the crowd and shot Oswald at a close range with a .38 caliber. Immediately, Ruby was arrested for the murder of Oswald who was pronounced dead at 1:07pm just a day after Kennedy’s death (“John F Kennedy Assassination”). Stunned by the rapid series of events and deaths, many wanted to know how it all happened, and they looked to the government to find out.

To understand the assassination events, President Johnson formed the President’s Commission of the Assassination of President John F Kennedy, also known as the Warren Commission, on 29 November, 1963 to fully investigate the Assassination of JFK and the acts of Oswald and Ruby. After interviewing witnesses and searching FBI and CIA documents, the Warren Commision summarized their findings in 1964 with the Warren Commission Report. The report concluded that there were no larger conspiracies at hand in the assassination along with no connection of conspiracy with Oswald and Ruby as they both acted solely alone ( “John F Kennedy Assassinated”). Prior to these findings, Americans were distraught because of the event.Many businesses closed early and students were dismissed from school early. Many people attended the president’s funeral and watched it on TV for days straight. Yet, with these findings, many Americans psyche came to ease. While some citizens found the report to be true and praised the commission for giving the explanation, others chose not to believe the government and leaned into their own ideas and perception of the assassination.

These thoughts and ideas fueled the creation of conspiracy theories regarding the truth of 22 November. Skeptics of the official explanation that Oswald and Ruby acted alone turn to conspiracy theories. A 2017 poll found that 61% of Americans believe that other people were involved in the assassination, gaining support for the most popular conspiracy: second shooter and the grassy knoll (Victor). Many witnesses claim to have heard shots fired from the grassy knoll as well as smoke after the shooting was over. Not only did the presence of smokes support the belief, but the account of Officer Joe Smith did as well. As soon as the shooting happened, Smith ran to the fence behind the grassy knoll and smelled gunpowder, so did other witnesses. While there he confronted a man who showed Smith an ID saying he was a Secret Service agent, Smith let the man leave. However later, during the investigations, it was confirmed that all Secret Service agents in the area were either in the parade or awaiting Kennedy’s arrival at the Dallas trade market.

This account, along with others who also claim to have seen a CIA agent on the grassy knoll, support that someone was pretending to be a CIA agent to get a shot off at the president. Another strong piece of evidence used to support the second shooter conspiracy is the Zapruder film. The 26 second video of the exact moment JFK was shot shows him jerking backwards after being shot in the head. This meaning the shot had to come from the front to push Kennedy back. This goes against the Warren commission report that concluded all shots came from behind. Originally the video was not shown to the public until 1975, which made people believe the government was hiding it for a reason. Another conspiracy followed is the magic bullet theory. Skeptics believe that Oswald could not have fired fast enough to hit both Kennedy and Connally, and the same bullet could not have injured both Kennedy and Connally, whereas

the Warren Commission explained that one bullet was used to hit Kennedy in the neck, and Connally in the chest and wrist (Victor). The magic bullet conspiracist believe that the bullet was not capable of all the damage listed and that it would have taken at least four bullets. It is also documented that Connally said he thought he was was struck by a separate bullet (Victor). The next conspiracy followed is that the assassination was done by either the CIA or inside job. The public knew Kennedy and the CIA did not get along. After Kennedy had pulled US Air support during the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, the CIA was angry at Kennedy. And at the same time of JFK’s assassination, the CIA was plotting the assassinations of other foreign leaders, including Fidel Castro. This evidence has people wondering if since the CIA was capable of plotting the assassination of others, how hard could it be for them to plan that of JFK’s. Aside from the CIA some believe it was an inside job done by a different organization.

They use the Zapruder film, saying that William Greer, the driver of the Kennedys car, can be seen reaching over his shoulder and shooting Kennedy in a bad copy of the film (“JFK Assassination Conspiracy Theories”). However in the clear version of the film, Greer’s hands are on the steering wheel the whole time. While some people do not believe in the conspiracy theories, they do believe that Oswald had connections to communism. Oswald was labeled as a pro-communist because he moved to the USSR and even tried to get a visa to move to a communist countries (“JFK Assassination Conspiracy Theories”). Many believed he could have been acting as a agent for the Soviet Union or Cuba. While all the conspiracies had evidence to prove they were possibilities, conspiracist and citizens wanted all the documents regarding the terrible event released to the public. But before the release of the documents, the accuracy of the original assassination investigations had to be reevaluated, since the conspiracies could have been right.

In 1992, the President John F Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, JFK Act, was created to release documents regarding the assassination. After the JFK Act was passed, the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) was tasked to find, and make all documents in connection to the assassination public. The ARRB went forth in conducting their own investigation of the assassination and of the findings of the Warren Commission. The ARRB found anomalies in JFK’s autopsy, X-ray pictures, and charts. They also found that the Warren Commission did not look into the autopsy report themselves. This raised more doubts about the findings of the Warren Commission and the believed events of the assassination. Finding it hard to make a decision about the investigation, the Assassination Records Review Board still allowed for the release of documents. Over the course of 55 years, thousands of documents have been released; however, documents are still being withheld (“JFK Assassination Conspiracy Theories”).

While the government is seen as trying to hide information of the event, many documents are not released due to the sensitivity (“JFK Assassination Conspiracy Theories”). The last time documents were released was on 26 October, 2017 when President Trump ordered they be released (“JFK Assassination Conspiracy Theories”). Even though not all documents have been released, many hope that the documents that have been will help piece together the truth of the assassination. Kennbf When trying to figure out who killed John F Kennedy, many either believe in the government’s explanation, despite anomalies found, or their own beliefs. While Kennedy’s death was unexpected and sparked conspiracy theories to arise, the creation of them was to find the truth. Nevertheless, the underlying factor in all the conspiracy theories and the government’s findings is this: an honorable husband, father, and president was killed on the agenda of someone else. It is left up to those who want the truth to dig deep and find the honesty in the assassination.

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The never-ending who-done-it: the assassination of President Kennedy. (2022, Mar 15). Retrieved from

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