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Kennedy Assassination

November 22, 1963

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Kennedy Assassination

November 22, 1963
November 23, 1963
November 24, 1963
November 25, 1963
Lee Harvey Oswald

Kennedy Family Tree

Single Bullet Theory

Kennedy Gravesite

Personal Accounts

John F. Kennedy's
Inaugural Address

Kennedy, Lincoln similarities

Inaugural Address (13 MB )
"Ask not..." excerpt
Official death announcement
Cronkite - Kennedy shot
Cronkite - Kennedy dead
Oswald shot NBC TV
Oswald shot CBS TV

Friday, November 22, 1963
Page Four

Now the casket arrives from Oneal Funeral Home at Parkland. Big bronze box with white satin interior. The nurses have a problem as Kennedy's head is still oozing brain matter. Even though they have wrapped his naked body in sheets, the staining is evident and they fear it will ruin the satin lining. They wrap him in a plastic mattress cover.

Previously, Jackie Kennedy removed the wedding band from her left hand and slipped it on the President's finger, and then the casket was closed. It would be returned to her later that evening by one of John Kennedy's physicians, Rear Admiral Dr. George Burkley, who removed it from the President's finger after the autopsy.

At this time it was not a federal offense to kill a president, although this has since been changed. Consequently, jurisdiction was in Dallas. Dr. Earl Rose announced emphatically that the body could not be moved until after an autopsy was performed and he brought in a judge to reinforce his position. The Secret Service and Kennedy people were equally adamant that they were taking Kennedy with them. The standoff was broken and the Kennedy people won.

The hearse carrying the body of John F. Kennedy, accompanied by his widow, sped off for Love Field in Dallas.

John F Kennedy
Coffin bearing the body of John F. Kennedy is carried aboard Air Force One at Dallas Love Field.

Lyndon Johnson is sworn in as the 36th President by Judge Sarah Hughes. Johnson is flanked by his wife and Jackie Kennedy.
Judge Sarah Hughes was summoned to Air Force One to administer the oath of office. Mrs. Kennedy, shaken and quiet, was asked to stand by Johnson as he was sworn in as the 36th President of the United States. 98 minutes had elapsed since Kennedy was pronounced dead. It was 2:38 p.m. CST.

By 3 p.m., John F. Kennedy, President for 34 months and two days, had left Dallas forever.

At the White House, nanny Maude Shaw took young Caroline and John Jr. to the house of their maternal grandmother, Mrs. Hugh Auchincloss.

On board Air Force One, the passengers quickly segregated into two camps, Johnson people forward and the Kennedy clan back with the slain President. It was Jackie Kennedy who first made the comparison to Abraham Lincoln and thus the theme for Kennedy's funeral was born. The Kennedy people had always found Johnson cloddish, a hick. They had one last hurrah in the spotlight, a few more moments of power in these last days until Kennedy was laid to rest. They were not about to let the crude Johnson interfere. Lyndon Johnson was stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place. National unity meant a commingling of the old and new administrations. Yet attempts to reach out could be seen as a power grab.

By 6:05 p.m. EST when Air Force One landed at Andrews Air Force Base, Washington had darkened. Johnson had wanted to accompany Mrs. Kennedy but the Kennedy clan would have none of that. They literally blocked his path to the rear. Attorney General Robert Kennedy rushed aboard the plane, swept past Lyndon Johnson and rushed to Jackie Kennedy.

Click for larger view
Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy
President Kennedy's casket was loaded unto a forklift. Following that was Robert and Jacqueline Kennedy. It was an image that shocked a nation. This meticulous woman was all bloody and disheveled. The world could now see the horror of the day.

Regarding Jackie Kennedy's appearance on Air Force One, Lady Bird Johnson had observed in her diary, "I looked at her. Mrs. Kennedy's dress was stained with blood. One leg was almost entirely covered with it and her right glove was caked, it was caked with blood - her husband's blood., Somehow that was one of the most poignant sights - that immaculate woman exquisitely dressed, and caked in blood."

the Original Casket
The casket from Oneals, the one that transported President Kennedy to Washington was slightly damaged in transfer. Once at Bethesda, a new casket was acquired from Gawler's Funeral Home and this is the one in which Kennedy was buried.

So what happened to the Oneal casket? After haggling to reduce a big charge, the bill was paid for the casket. Gawler's Funeral Home came into possession of the box when they substituted their own coffin and they turned the Oneal box over to the National Archives.

Now Mr. Oneal, even though he has been paid, wants the box back. Can't blame a guy for trying.

Meanwhile, the coffin is stored in a secure vault in the basement of the National Archives. Understandably, Robert Kennedy wants to dispose of it.

After some negotiation, the Department of Defense dropped the coffin into the sea in February of 1966.
Kennedy's body, accompanied by his wife and brother was loaded into an ambulance for the trip to Bethesda Naval Hospital while the world watched.

Jacqueline Kennedy and Robert Kennedy

President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson
President Johnson approached a bank of microphones and read these words: "This is a sad time for all people. We have suffered a loss that cannot be weighed. For me it is a deep personal tragedy. I know the world shares the sorrow that Mrs. Kennedy and her family bear. I will do my best. That is all I can do. I ask for your help - and God's."

PBS Kennedys
The Kennedys (1992)
From PBS
The American Experience
4 hr, 2 disc set


Although they could have taken up residence at the White House, the Johnsons choose to stay in their home, The Elms, a Norman mansion in Washington's Spring Valley section. When Johnson went directly to the White House that night, he choose his old office in the Executive Office Building over the Oval Office.

At Mrs. Kennedy's request, the children returned to the White House. That night, as Maude Shaw tucked Caroline into bed, she told her the sad news of her father's death.

The autospy at Bethesda will forever be a source of controversy. The principal work was done by pathologists Commander James Humes, Commander J. Thorton Boswell, and Lt. Colonel Pierre Finck.

They photographed, x-rayed and autopsied John Kennedy.

Ken O'Donnell, Lawrence O'Brien and Dave Powers went to Gawler & Sons Funeral Home to select a casket. They choose a dark mahogany with silver handles. The Kennedy clan wanted the Navy to embalm the President but the Navy declined as this was not a Bethesda function. Thus, Gawler's would provide this service.

Jackie Kennedy remained at Bethesda, still composed, still in the pink suit, still awake. She was not leaving without her husband.

Midnight rolled around and November 22, 1963 ended.
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