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Opening graph of Kennedy the day he was shot.

Credit: File

By Charles Apple

Sixty years ago Wednesday, President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed during a motorcade in Dallas.

Cheering Crowds

Nov. 21st, 1963

John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline, spend the president's last full day alive touring San Antonio and Houston. Everywhere they go, they are met with smiling, adoring crowds.

The League of United American Citizens is told the president and Jackie might drop by a meeting in Houston on the night of the 21st — if they can fit it into their schedule. Sure enough, the presidential party appears. Jackie climbs onto a stage with a mariachi band and addresses the crowd in Spanish. They love her.

The Kennedys then jet to Fort Worth, where local art lovers — several of them Republican supporters — had borrowed art to decorate their suite at the Hotel Texas. Kennedy'ss last phone call ever is to thank the organizer the next morning.

After a busy morning on Nov. 22, the president and his wife board Air Force One for a short hop from Fort Worth to Dallas, a motorcade through the city and a luncheon at the Dallas Trade Mart. The first lady in the striking pink outfit clings to the arm of her husband, the leader of the free world.

Shots Ring Out

Nov. 22 - 12:30 P.M. CST

Photos of initial shots.
Credit: File

“His last expression was so neat,” Jackie told journalist Theodore H. White a week after the assassination.

“He had his hand out. I could see a piece of his skull coming off ... and I could see this perfectly clean piece detaching itself from his head. ”Then he slumped in my lap,” she said.

“I kept bending over him saying, 'Jack, Jack, can you hear me, I love you Jack.' I kept holding the top of his head down, trying to keep the brains in.” At some point, Jackie leaned onto the back of the limousine, just as Secret Service agent Clint Hill leaped aboard.

Hill wrote in his 2012 autobiography, “Her eyes were filled with terror. ... She was reaching for something. She was reaching for a piece of the president's head."

The limo heads at high speed to Parkland Memorial Hospital. Jackie didn't want to let her husband go, Hill said, “because of how he looked, so I took my coat off and covered his head and upper back.”

Hill continued to protect Jackie for another year, then returned to White House duty until retiring in 1975. He lives in San Francisco.

LBJ Takes Charge

2:39 P.M. CST

LBJ being sworn in as the new president.
Credit: The White House

Lyndon Johnson — in anguish over the fact that the president was killed in Texas — refuses to leave for Washington without Kennedy's widow. She refuses to leave the hospital without her husband's body.

Kennedy's advisers essentially strong-arm their way past county officials who want to perform an autopsy. The casket they bought doesn't fit through the hatch in the side of Air Force One, so they break off the handles and shove it into the aft cabin.

In the meantime, Johnson calls a longtime friend — U.S. District Judge Sarah Hughes — to administer the oath of office before the plane departs.

Jackie says she wants to witness the swearing-in. And so she does, still wearing her blood-splattered pink outfit.

People keep asking Jackie if she should change out of her pink suit, soaked in her husband's blood.

No, she says. “Not right now. I want them to see what they have done to Jack.”

JFK's casket is strapped to a bulkhead. Jackie sits beside it for the ride back to D.C., refusing to leave her husband's side.

Back In Washington

6 P.M. EST

Somber visits of former presidental figures Truman and Eisenhower along with Jackie paying their respect to Kennedy.
Credit: File Photo

The President's brother — Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy — meets Air Force One on the tarmac of Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington.

Jackie says she wants Kennedy's inner circle to lower him from the plane into the waiting ambulance. Performing the sad duty are Ken O'Donnell, Larry O'Brien, Dave Powers, Gens. Ted Clifton Jr. and Godfrey McHugh and a handful of others.

Jackie also says she wants Secret Service agent Bill Greer — who had been driving the limo when Kennedy was shot — to drive the ambulance. Kennedy's body is taken to Bethesda Naval Hospital, where an autopsy is finally performed.

It's not until after midnight that the body is delivered to the White House to lie in repose for 24 hours in a flag-draped coffin in the East Room. Among those who visit to pay their respects: former presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower.

Jackie has the famous pink suit packed into a box and delivered to her mother, Janet Auchincloss, who gives it to the National Archives. Part of the agreement is that the dress cannot go on display until at least 2103 — 140 years after the assassination.

Jackie's matching pillbox hat — which went missing at some point on Nov. 22has never been found.

JFK Lies In State

Nov. 24th

Jackie and Kennedy's daughter at JFK's coffin, with a marine standing guard.
Credit: File Photo

On Sunday — two days after he was killed — Kennedy's coffin is carried via horse-drawn caisson to the rotunda of the Capitol. He is placed upon the same catafalque that held Abraham Lincoln's coffin 98 years before.

Jackie and her daughter, Caroline — who would turn 6 three days later — are the first to say their goodbyes. Three-year-old John Jr. stays behind.

Over the next 18 hours, an estimated quarter of a million people stand in the near-freezing rain to slowly file by Kennedy's coffin. During the visitation, the man accused of assassinating Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald, is murdered in Dallas on national TV.

Kennedy's state funeral is held in Washington's St. Matthews Cathedral on Nov. 25.

Kennedy's closest advisers urge Jackie to bury Kennedy in Boston. However, she selects a gorgeous hillside spot at Arlington National Cemetery, with a sweeping view of downtown Washington.

That's where the nation's 35th president is laid to rest on Monday, Nov. 25, 1963.

Sources: “The Death of a President: November 1963” by William Manchester, “Four Days: The Historical Record of the Death of President Kennedy, Nov. 22-25, 1963” by United Press International and American Heritage magazine, “The Day Kennedy Died: 50 Years Later, Life Remembers the Man and the Moment,” “The Flight From Dallas” by Chris Jones, John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Esquire magazine, BuzzFeed

This edition of Further Review was adapted for the web by Zak Curley.