President John F. Kennedy was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time (18:30 UTC) on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas. The moment he was shot was caught on grainy 8mm film camera by an onlooker called Abraham Zapruder. This footage, lasting only 26 seconds, is perhaps one of the most famous pieces of footage from the twentieth century.
Kennedy was on tour in Texas, and the motorcade through Dallas was scheduled to give him maximum exposure to the people. He was accompanied by Jackie, who sat beside him in the back seat.
Kennedy was hit first in the back, and slumped forward. The sound of the shot could be heard, but many people mistook it as a car backfiring. A second shot hit Governor John Connally, sitting in front of the Kennedys, in the chest. Kennedy was then shot again in the head. There was no confusion any more over what was happening and the President’s car raced to the Parkland Memorial Hospital. He was declared dead at 1:00 p.m.
|The Kennedy motorcade through Dublin city centre|
26 June 1963
The shots that hit Kennedy were fired from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. Lee Harvey Oswald a part-time worker at the Depository, was arrested at about 1:40pm in a cinema. His behavior had aroused suspicion from the public, and the ticket clerk rang the police to report him. Oswald had been stopped on the street earlier by Officer J.D. Tippit on the basis of a description that had been broadcast by the police. However, Oswald shot Tippit dead before he could arrest him.
Oswald himself was shot dead by Jack Ruby as he was being escorted from the back of a police station to be remanded in prison. Both men claimed to be acting alone, but numerous conspiracy theories have arisen since the assassination, blaming everybody from the CIA to Jackie Kennedy.
News of the assassination was beamed around the world almost instantly, thanks to advances in television and communications technology. Kennedy was the first US President to embrace television as a communications tool, famously winning the presidential debate with Nixon because of his youthful appearance on TV compared to Nixon, who had opted for no makeup and was sweating heavily.
The fact that both his murder, and the murder of his assassin, were also recorded on film, signified the arrival of the age of visual communication technology. It also brought an end to the ability of the public to get that close to a US president. No other president, or presidential candidate, would ever dream of travelling in an open-top motorcade again.