It was a beautiful day in Dallas, as President and Mrs. Kennedy arrived from Ft. Worth. They proceeded in an open limo to the center of the city. At 12:30 PM shots rang out and struck the President, at 1:00 PM he was pronounced dead at Parkland hospital. Hours later, Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the shooting. Jack Ruby, however, killed Oswald. Thus one of the great mysteries of American History was born. Who killed President Kennedy? Was it lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald?, or was there a conspiracy? Theories abound, to date, none have ever been proven.
In the fall of 1963, Kennedy and his political advisors decided to put a special effort in campaigning to maintain Democratic control of Florida and Texas. The 1964 Presidential elections seemed just around the corner. Democratic support had weakened in both of these Southern states as a result of President Kennedy's support for civil rights legislation. So President Kennedy planned a trip to Texas for the end of November. He left for Texas on November 21st, visiting San Antonio, Houston, and Fort Worth. The Secret Service were concerned about an assault from a right-wing Kennedy opponent. They paid no attention to any potential left-wingers who may have wanted to harm the President. Thus, Lee Harvey Oswald did not attract their interest.
Oswald had spent time in Moscow and was a Communist sympathizer. The President and his motorcade traveled through downtown Dallas. The motorcade reached the Texas Book Depository building and turned down Elm Street. Then, three shots were fired. Two of them hit President Kennedy. The second shot, which entered his head, proved fatal. The governor of Texas, John Connolly, who was traveling along with the President, was also shot, but later recovered. The motorcade raced to Parkland Memorial Hospital but to no avail and the President was declared dead at 1PM Central Time. The President's body was taken to Air Force One, with Vice President Johnson and the First Lady aboard. Vice President Johnson took the Oath of Office at 2:38 PM before the plane departed for Washington. What followed was three days of public mourning, the likes of which this country, or more accurately, the world had never seen before. Hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans and representatives of 90 countries came to Washington to pay their respects to the fallen President. Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested by police on an unrelated offense and was then charged with killing the President. Oswald denied the accusation. Before he could be formally charged, Oswald in turn was killed by Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner. Oswald’s death left so many questioned unanswered.
Could one gunman, acting alone have been so effective in killing the President and wounding the Governor? If Oswald was the one who killed the President, what were his motives? Did someone else send him? There have been successive investigations. The most comprehensive was the official Warren Commission. All the investigations reached the same conclusion: Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman. To this day, many Americans find that conclusion hard to believe.