Thursday, May 6, 2010

In this essay we will be looking into the life and assassination of John F. Kennedy. We will look into his life prior to being elected President of the United States and from there we will look at his life and policies as President. The main portion of this essay will be focused specifically on his assassination and the many theories that go along with it. The purpose of this essay is to look at the life and assassination of John F. Kennedy.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born May 29th, 1917 in Brookline Massachusetts.
He was the second son of Joseph Patrick Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald out of a total of nine children. As a child, John was continuously sick. He contracted things such as the whooping cough, measles, chicken pox, and scarlet fever. Growing up he enjoyed much of the products of the hard work of his father and grandfathers. John attended Choate, a boarding school for adolescent boys, located in Connecticut.

John graduated Choate and entered Harvard in 1936, where his older brother Joe already attended. He played on the football team and one day while playing he ruptured a disc in his spine which never really recovered. While still attending Harvard John’s father was appointed the United States Ambassador to England in 1937. The whole family moved to England except for John and Joe who remained at Harvard. After a summer visit to England and other places in Europe, John returned back to school wanting to know even more about government and current events.
John’s father wrote home many times about what was going on over seas. He spoke of Hitler and Mussolini.

World War Two began in 1939 and that next year John Kennedy graduated Harvard. Soon after graduating John joined the Navy in 1941 where he was an intelligence officer. Soon after World War Two began John was sent to the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron where he was given command of a PT boat. In 1943 Kennedy was sent to the South Pacific. One day his boat was hit by a Japanese Destroyer. Two of his crew was killed while six others hung onto what was left of the ship. For five hours Kennedy and the men hung on until they managed to get to an island five miles from where there ship went down.

Due to the attack in 1943 Kennedy suffered a terrible back injury so he was sent back to the United States. Kennedy was promoted and sent to Florida after he returned to the U.S. He returned to civilian life in 1945 after another operation on his back. For the next twelve months he worked as a journalist covering the United Nations Conference in San Francisco and the 1945 General Election in Britain.
In 1946 Kennedy won election of the House of Representatives as a democrat.
Kennedy traveled many places. In 1951 he took a large interest in foreign policy and he traveled to Europe visiting many countries. Later that year he visited the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Indochina, Malaya and Korea. In 1952 Kennedy was elected into the Senate and in 1953 he married Jacqueline Bouvier, the daughter of a New York City financer. They had four children over the couple of years following but only two of the four survived infancy. Their names were Caroline and John.(source)

Kennedy had a couple more back surgeries and while recovering in hospital he wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning Profiles in Courage in 1956. In 1960 Kennedy entered the race to become the Democratic Party presidential candidate. He won Democratic primaries in New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Oregon, Maryland, Nebraska and West Virginia. In July of 1960, at the national convention, Kennedy was nominated on the first ballot. For his running mate he selected Lyndon B. Johnson. The Republican candidate was Richard M. Nixon. Many watched their debates unfold on the television screen.(source)

Kennedy won the popular vote and was the first Roman Catholic President.
The well known quote by Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you…but ask what you can do for your country.” was spoken during his Inaugural Address in 1961. As president his goal was to get America back into motion. His goal was to expand America. It was going to be the biggest expansion since World War Two. Kennedy had a huge desire to put a dent into poverty. (source)

As president his goal was to get America back into motion. He responded to the growing need of action to the issue of equal rights. He called for new civil rights legislation. His plans for our country were put on hold for a couple years as he aided other countries and confronted others.

He was trying to aid other countries in their progress and did so with the Peace Corps and the Alliance for Progress. The hard reality of the Communist challenge in the Soviet Union still remained however. Shortly after Kennedy’s election he permitted a band of armed and trained exiles to invade their homeland in the attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro. This attempt had been underway through the CIA and was a failure. Soon after that the Soviet Union began its campaign against West Berlin again. Kennedy reacted by reinforcing Berlin and increasing our Nation's military strength. This even included new efforts in outer space. (source)

After this and the completion of the Berlin Wall the Soviet Union backed off of central Europe. Their focus was now on Cuba. The Soviet Union planned to install nuclear weapons in Cuba. When Kennedy found this out in 1962 he imposed quarantine on all weapons headed toward Cuba. Thankfully before the world entered into nuclear war the Russians backed down and agreed to take the nuclear bombs away.

In 1963 Kennedy was able to refocus his goals for the country back on civil and equal rights which was his real passion. He did not get far though. On November 22, 1963 Kennedy arrived in Dallas with his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, Governor John Connally and Senator Ralph Yarborough. They would travel in a procession of cars through the business district of Dallas. A pilot car and several motorcycles rode ahead of the limousine that held Kennedy, his wife, John Conally and his wife, the head of Secret Service at the White House- Roy Kellerman, and the driver William Greer. The car following the presidential limousine held eight Secret Service Agents. This was followed by a car containing Vice President Lyndon Johnson and Senator Ralph Yarborough.(source)

At around 12.30 in the afternoon the presidential limousine began driving on Elm Street. Not long after shots rang out. President John Kennedy was hit by two bullets that hit him in the left shoulder then in the head. Another bullet hit John Connally in the back. Ten seconds after the first shots had been fired the president's car sped off quickly towards Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. Both Kennedy and Conally were carried into separate emergency rooms. Connally had wounds to his thigh, chest, wrist, and back. Kennedy's injuries were far worse. At 1 in the afternoon Kennedy was declared dead due to the massive head shot he received.

Two hours after the assassination of President Kennedy a suspect was arrested. His name was Lee Harvey Oswald. What led to the incarceration of Oswald? At the scene of the assassination witnesses claimed that they had seen shots being fired from behind a wooden fence on the Grassy Knoll and from the Texas School Book Depository. The police investigated the witness’s claims and during a search of the Texas School Book Depository they discovered three empty cartridge cases on the floor by one of the large windows. They also found a rifle hidden beneath some boxes during there search. source)

Oswald was seen in the Texas School Book Depository before 11.55 a.m. and 12:31 pm, just after the shooting of John F. Kennedy. Oswald was then seen at 12.33 leaving the building and by 1.00 P.M. arrived at his apartment. His landlady, Earlene Roberts, testified that Oswald stayed only a few minutes. However while he was in there a Dallas Police Department car was parked in front of the house. In the car were two uniformed policemen whom, according to Roberts, sounded the horn twice before driving off. Soon afterwards Oswald left the house. A Dallas police man by the name of J. D. Tippet, approached a man later identified as Oswald, walking along East 10th Street at 1.16 p.m. A witness later testified that after a short conversation Oswald pulled out a gun and shot a number of shots at Tippet then Oswald ran off leaving the Tippet dying on the ground. (source)

After hearing a news flash that J.D. Tippit had been shot nearby John Brewer who was the manager of Hardy's Shoe Store in Oak Cliff saw a man acting strangely outside the shop: "The police cars were racing up and down Jefferson with their sirens blasting and it appeared to me that this guy was hiding from them. He waited until there was a break in the activity and then he headed west until he got to the Texas Theatre." Brewer went into the theatre and spoke to the assistant manager Warren Burroughs. Burroughs had seen the man enter the balcony of the theatre. When the police arrived Brewer accompanied the officers into the cinema where he pointed out the man he had seen acting in a suspicious manner. After a brief struggle Oswald was arrested. (source)

Soon after his arrest the police found out that Oswald worked at the Texas School Book Depository. They also found his palm print on the rifle that was discovered earlier that day. Oswald's hand prints were found on the book cartons and the brown paper bag. A fellow worker Charles Givens, testified that he saw Oswald on the sixth floor at 11.55 a.m. Howard Brennan, another witness, claimed he saw Oswald holding a rifle at the sixth floor window. The police also discovered that the rifle was purchased under the name A. Hiddell. Which at first was confusing however when Oswald was arrested the police found that he was carrying a forged I.D. card with the name Alek Hiddell. The rifle had been sent by the mail order company from Chicago to P.O. Box 2915, Dallas, Texas. The Post Office box belonged to Oswald.

The Dallas police interrogated Lee Harvey Oswald for over 13 hours. However no tapes or any transcripts were made of the interrogations. Oswald denied he had been involved in the killing of Kennedy during all of his interrogation. He also told newsmen on the night of the assassination he was a "patsy". A “pasty” was a term used by the Mafia to describe someone set up to take the punishment for a crime they did not commit. n the 24th of November Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby while being transported from the city to the county jail.

The day that Kennedy was assassinated is one of the most remembered days in history. All those alive during that time still remember that day. The assassination of President Kennedy is not an event in history studied enough in my opinion. Many people of my generation are not aware of all that was involved in his assassination.