60 Years After JFK Was Shot, 'a Race Against Time'

As surviving witnesses try to log their assassination accounts, conspiracy theories continue to abound
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 22, 2023 6:46 AM CST
60 Years After JFK Was Shot, 'a Race Against Time'
President John F. Kennedy waves from his car in a motorcade approximately one minute before he was shot on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas. Riding with President Kennedy are first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, right, Nellie Connally, second from left, and her husband, Texas Gov. John Connally, far left.   (AP Photo/Jim Altgens, File)

It's the day before Thanksgiving, and also the commemoration of another somber day in American history: the 60th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. JFK was fatally shot in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, by Lee Harvey Oswald while riding in a motorcade with wife Jacqueline Kennedy, Texas Gov. John Connally, and Connally's wife. Questions from that fateful day remain, as do questionable theories that have popped up since. "As a society, we became addicted to conspiracy theories because of the Kennedy assassination," political scientist Larry Sabato tells Time, which takes a closer look at why that is. More on the anniversary:

  • In pictures: USA Today features photographs of a "shocked nation mourning" after Kennedy's murder, as well as images from the late president's funeral.
  • What to watch: There's no shortage of specials to mark the 60th anniversary, and TV and film writer Hunter Ingram makes some recommendations to NPR. One pick: a documentary from the "One Day in America" series by National Geographic, which Ingram calls a "really fascinating" look at the events that day in Dallas.

  • 'A race against time': That's how one museum worker frames capturing the oral histories of the last surviving witnesses to the assassination, including AP reporter Peggy Simpson. Simpson, now 84, details to the news agency how she embedded herself "under [the] armpit" of police officers in Dallas that day to document the "wild, crazy, chaotic, unfathomable scene." "A tangible link to the past is going to be lost when the last voices from that time period are gone," laments curator Stephen Fagin of Dallas' Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.
  • Effect on Dallas: The Texas city was nicknamed "the City of Hate" after JFK was gunned down, with media coverage pointing to the tense political climate there, per Axios, which takes a look at the economic and cultural impact there in the wake of the assassination.
  • All in the family: The AP dives into the different paths "to public service" that different Kennedys have taken since JFK's assassination, including that of his brother, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, and of various nieces and nephews who've served in government positions. Not all the Kennedys have tried to stay in the public eye, however, including JFK's daughter, 65-year-old Caroline Kennedy, who's maintained a quiet profile while serving in ambassadorships. Of the Kennedy family members who've stayed mostly in the background: "Who can blame them for finding another road?" historian Sean Wilentz says, adding that the assassination of both JFK and his brother, Robert F. Kennedy, may have been "too much of a burden on the next generation to carry on and complete what was left unfinished."
  • From RFK Jr.: JFK's nephew, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose own path currently involves running for president, issued a statement on Monday saying he'd continue his uncle's legacy if elected and "will put us back on the road to peace," per the Messenger. RFK Jr. also said he's putting together a petition to demand President Biden release all documents tied to JFK's assassination. "What is so embarrassing that they're afraid to show the American public 60 years later?" RFK Jr. noted.
(More John F. Kennedy stories.)

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