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Thursday, November 21, 2013


    With all the attention that has been given this week to the 50th anniversary tomorrow of the JFK assassination it is easy to miss how this event defined a generation. For most baby boomers the assassination was the seminal event of our youth.  Having grown up in the 1950's many realities of adult life seemed far away from us.  Death of someone we knew was almost unknown.  Those realities were abruptly broken on November 22, 1963.  After that day we were presented with the new realities of racial prejudice, a war in Vietnam with a draft and then the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy.  As we moved through adolescence and early adulthood our memories of the placid 1950's became a distant memory.  Turmoil, struggle and strife became the new reality.  For many of us these defining issues are ones that we still carry with us today.  Today's issues maybe different but the need to be engaged in the struggle has not diminished as we have grown older.
     I did a search of internet sites to try and find some facts of JFK's life and assassinate that are not widely known.  Here are ten that I came across:

1. JFK received last rites four times in his life: in 1947 after becoming gravely ill in England; in 1951 while stricken with a high fever in Japan; in 1954 following back surgery; on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas.

2. Kennedy was the only U.S. president whose grandmother lived longer than he did.

3. The public first saw the assassination footage 12 years after the shooting. In the 12 years that followed the assassination, the general public never saw the now-famous footage of JFK’s death shot by Abraham Zapruder. At most, they had seen only selected frames as published in Life magazine and republished elsewhere. Not until 1975 did the general public get to see the full footage, when it was broadcast during an ABC special. A wave of outrage ensued, leading to criticism of ABC for broadcasting something so graphic as well as widespread distrust of the Warren Commission that investigated the assassination.

4. TV news covered the story for four days straight, night and day, beginning Friday afternoon and not returning to other programming until Tuesday. In the end, the JFK assassination set off an unprecedented stretch of news coverage that remained unmatched for 38 years until 9/11

5.While JFK was the only mortality, Texas Governor John Connally was apparently not the only person wounded that day. James Tague was a bystander, standing atop the triple overpass, who allegedly sustained a hit to the cheek by the fragments of either a bullet or from concrete knocked loose from a bullet. At most, the impact opened a tiny wound on his cheek, sufficient to do little more than draw forth a drop of blood. No surprise, there is no consensus on which bullet could have directly or indirectly caused the scratch. In fact, Tague himself is certain he was hit from the second bullet which, according to most researchers, seems to be the least likely of the three fired.

6.One of the more pervasive myths surrounding the JFK assassination was the idea that no other shooter could replicate Oswald’s feat of shooting three times in 6.75 seconds. So another shooter must have been involved, right? Not necessarily. The Warren Commission reported that one marksman was able to pull off the feat in 4.6 seconds, and a later CBS investigation showed that 11 marksmen averaged 5.6 seconds. Also, Oswald’s shot was, for a trained shooter, relatively easy. Oswald and other military marksmen are trained to shoot anywhere from 200 to 500 yards. Kennedy was 88 yards from Oswald at his farthest point, and 59 yards away at the time of the last shot.

7. Lee Harvey Oswald was actually arrested for fatally shooting a police officer, Dallas patrolman J.D. Tippitt, 45 minutes after killing Kennedy.  He wasn't charged with killing the President until almost midnight on Nov. 22nd.

8. Despite the assassinations of three U.S. presidents -- Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield and William McKinley -- killing or attempting to harm a president wasn't a federal offense until 1965, two years after Kennedy's death. Oswald would have been tried in a Texas court for the murders.

9.  Federal Judge Sarah Hughes administered the oath to President Johnson, the only woman ever to swear in a President.

10. JFK wasn't the first person Oswald tried to kill. Eight months before Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated JFK, he tried to kill an outspoken anti-communist, former U.S. Army Gen. Edwin Walker. After his resignation from the U.S. Army in 1961, Walker became an outspoken critic of the Kennedy administration and actively opposed the move to racially integrate schools in the South. The Warren Commission, charged with investigating Kennedy's 1963 assassination, found that Oswald had tried to shoot and kill Walker while the retired general was inside his home. Walker sustained minor injuries from bullet fragments.

Hear about the events of November 22 from Walter Cronkite.

Scariest news of the day.

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