Readers React To The Death Of President J.F. Kennedy
Editor’s note: Below is the story that appeared on the front page of the Nevada Appeal the afternoon of Nov. 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was assassinated. Errors, such as the spelling of Lyndon Johnson’s name and identification of Kennedy as the 36th president, have been left uncorrected to reflect the hectic nature of the breaking news that day.
(AP) — President John F. Kennedy, thirty-sixth president of the United States, was shot to death today by a hidden assassin armed with a high-powered rifle.
Kennedy, 46, lived about 30 minutes after a sniper cut him down as his limousine left downtown Dallas. Newsmen said the shot that hit him was fired about 12:30 p.m. CST. A hospital announcement said he died at approximately 1 p.m. of a bullet wound in the head.
Automatically, the mantle of the presidency fell to Vice President Lynden B. Johnson, a native Texan who had been riding behind the chief executive.
He was sworn in as President of the United States at about 1:38 p.m. CST today.
Johnson took the oath aboard the presidential plane at Dallas’ Love Filed. He was preparing to fly to Washington to take over the government.
Kennedy died at Parkland Hospital where his bullet-pierced body had been taken in a frantic but futile effort to save his life.
Lying wounded at the same hospital was Gov. John Connally of Texas, who was cut down by the same fusillade that ended the life of the youngest man ever elected to the presidency,.
Connally and his wife had been riding with the President and Mrs. Kennedy.
The First Lady cradled her dying husband’s blood-smeared head in her arms as they rushed to the hospital.
“Oh, no,” she kept crying. Connally slumped in his seat beside the President.
Police ordered an unprecedented dragnet of the city, hunting for the assassin. They believed the fatal shots were fired by a white man, about 30, slender of height and weighing about 165 pounds and standing 5 feet 10 inches tall.
The murder weapon was reportedly a 30-30 rifle.
Shortly before Kennedy’s death became known, he was administered last rites of the Roman Catholic Church. He was the first Roman Catholic president in American history.
Even as two clergymen hovered over the fallen President in the hospital emergency room, doctors and nurses administered blood transfusions.
Kennedy died of a gunshot wound in the brain at approximately 1 p.m. CST according to an announcement.
The new President, Lyndon Johnson, and his wife left the hospital a half hour later. Newsmen had no opportunity to question them.
The horror of the assassination was mirrored in an eyewitness account by Sen. Ralph Yarborough, D-Tex., who had been riding three cars behind Kennedy.
“I could see a Secret Service man in the President’s car leaning on the car with his hands in anger, anguish and despair. I knew then something tragic had happened.”
Yarborough had counted three rifle shots as the presidential limousine left downtown Dallas through a triple underpass. The shots were fired from above – possibly from one of the bridges or from a nearby building.
One witness, television reporter Lam Couch, said he saw a gun emerge from an upper story of a warehouse commanding an unobstructed view of the presidential car.
Kennedy was the first president to be assassinated since William McKinley was shot in 1901.
It was the first death of a president in office since Franklin D. Roosevelt died of a cerebral hemorrhage at Warm Springs, Ga., in April 1945.
Roosevelt had been enjoying a vacation when he died. McKinley had been shaking hands at a reception at an exposition in Buffalo, N.Y.
Kennedy and his wife had just passed the halfway point in a three-day speaking tour through Texas.
The President already had prepared a luncheon address for a Dallas audience before he died. In his prepared text, he assailed his ultraconservative critics.
Dallas is considered a center of a conservative philosophy and finance.
Here, on Oct. 24, Adlai E. Stevensen was spat upon by one heckler and struck by another after making a United Nations Day address.
It was believed that Kennedy’s body would be moved shortly to Washington.
Traditionally, funeral service for presidents who die in office are held in the capitol city.
Kilduff told newsmen the Gov. Connally, a Democrat, was wounded in the right chest in the same ambush the felled the President.