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JFK files released: What happened on the day John F Kennedy was assassinated?

President Donald Trump blocked the release of hundreds of records on the assassination of President John F Kennedy.

world Updated: Oct 27, 2017 12:46 IST
HT Correspondent
President John F Kennedy in an undated photograph.
President John F Kennedy in an undated photograph.(Reuters File Photo)

US President John F Kennedy’s assassination was a significant moment in American history, triggering theories that his death was a larger conspiracy than the act of a suspected lone gunman -- Lee Harvey Oswald.

The US government on Thursday released a mammoth, long-awaited trove of secret files on the assassination of president Kennedy, but withheld others for further review on national security grounds.

Read | Anonymous call to British paper, threats to US President: 5 things JFK files reveal

A look at what happened on the day JFK was assassinated:

Before the assassination

Kennedy was on a two-day trip to Texas accompanied by the first lady, Jacqueline, who was making her first extended public appearance after the death of their baby in August.

It was drizzling in the city of Fort Worth on November 22, 1963. Kennedy came out of the Texas Hotel in Fort Worth and addressed a crowd of thousands that had gathered outside. “There are no faint hearts in Fort Worth. And I appreciate your being here this morning. Mrs Kennedy is organising herself. It takes longer, but, of course, she looks better than we do when she does it,” the JFK Library quoted the late president as saying hours before he was killed.

John F Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy arrive at Love Field in Dallas, Texas less than an hour before his assassination. (Reuters File Photo)

The president is killed

The presidential party left for Dallas later. It was at the Dallas’ Love Field airport that ‘Jackie’ Kennedy, wearing her iconic Chanel pink suit, was pictured holding a bouquet of red roses while standing beside her husband. Later in the day, her pink suit would be stained with blood.

The Kennedys sat in an open top limousine with Texas governor John Connally and his wife Nelly for the 10-mile procession through Dallas. Vice president Johnson B Lyndon was in another car in the motorcade.

Three bullets were fired around 12.30pm from the sixth floor of a building as the motorcade was passing through Dealey Plaza in Dallas. Two of them hit JFK, one in the neck and another in head. The shocking images of Jacqueline Kennedy cradling her mortally wounded husband, slumped on her in the back of an open presidential limousine, froze the moment in the public consciousness.

John F Kennedy, First Lady Jaqueline Kennedy and Texas governor John Connally ride in a limousine moments before Kennedy was assassinated, in Dallas, Texas. (Reuters File Photo)

Secret Service agent Clint Hill ran from the car behind, leapt on the back of the limousine and shielded Mrs Kennedy as the car sped away to Parkland Memorial Hospital. Hill told NYT he had resolved he would take the fourth bullet if it came. “I wish I had been quicker,” the heroic agent, now 85, said on Thursday.

According to the Warren Commission, appointed by the US government to probe the assassination, a single bullet -- called “magic bullet” hit Kennedy and governor Connally, The New York Times reported. The governor was injured but survived the shooting.

Warning: Graphic scenes, viewer discretion is advised  

Aftermath

JFK’s body was brought to Air Force One at the Dallas airport. Just over two hours after the assassination, vice president Johnson took oath in a brief ceremony on the presidential plane with Jaqueline Kennedy, dressed in the same clothes, standing witnesses.

The same day, Lee Harvey Oswald had been arrested for firing the fatal shots that killed JFK. Americans witnessed the murder of Oswald on November 24 as he was shot dead by Jack Ruby, a Texas nightclub owner, while the suspect was being transferred to a county jail on live television.

Oswald’s death was perhaps one of the early reasons for people to believe Kennedy’s assassination was a larger conspiracy.

US President John F Kennedy's widow, first lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, and his brother US Attorney General Robert F Kennedy, walk into the White House grand foyer behind his casket upon its return from Dallas to Washington, DC. (REUTERS)

The funeral

Jaqueline Kennedy reportedly modelled the funeral procession of her husband after Abraham Lincoln’s. She wanted her husband to be remembered for his deeds -- and he was. More than two lakh people visited the US Capitol rotunda in Washington DC where JFK’s body lay in a coffin draped in Stars and Stripes after the assassination.

The televised funeral was attended by thousands along with several heads of state, including former French president Charles de Gaulle. The first lady and JFK’s brother Robert lit the eternal flame after President Kennedy was laid to rest at the Arlington National Cemetery.

(With agency inputs)