For the American people, John F. Kennedy was the bright future. He was a young man that they were as holding the torch for this country. When he was elected, he brought youth and a relaxing calm to the White House for the first time in our nation’s history. Not only did John Kennedy bring youth to our nation’s capital, but he also brought change and new ideas to improve the nation. During his first term in office, Kennedy improved peace talks with the Soviet Union, and was also working on ideas to halt the Vietnam War; however, his work could not be done in a single term as president.
Kennedy had to start campaigning for reelection and decided to make a trip to Dallas to the campaign. The President arrived in Dallas to a crowd of elated people lining the streets hoping to get a glimpse of the President. As his motorcade proceeded down Elm Street, Governor Connally’s wife said, “You can’t say that Dallas isn’t friendly to you today Mr. President.” (United Press International 14) With that, John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States was assassinated.November 22, 1963, would be the day Camelot would come crumbling down. Our nation and the people all over the world mourned the death of our young and inspiring President. It has been thirty years since the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and many people are still uncertain as to who is actually responsible for his assassination. Over the years there have been numerous theories that the CIA and the FBI were somehow linked to the assassination. Most of these theories have been disproven by other theories.
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The government’s theory is that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, assassinated President John F. Kennedy. Lee Harvey Oswald’s past may answer some questions as to why he is considered to be the assassin of John Kennedy. Lee Harvey Oswald was born on October 18, 1939, to a lower-middle-class family. Oswald’s father died two months before he was born; this left Oswald to be taken care of by only his mother, Marguerite. Marguerite had a hard time dealing with the death of Lee’s father, which left her all alone to raise Lee and his two brothers, Robert Oswald and John Pic, a son from her first marriage (Beck 71). Marguerite checked Robert and John into an orphanage so that she could find work for her family. Marguerite wanted to put Lee into an orphanage, but he was too young.
After Lee turned three years old, he was placed in the same orphanage that Robert and John were put in earlier. After two years of working in a factory, Lee’s mother took Lee and his brothers out of the orphanage (Posner 6). About a year and a half later, Marguerite informed Lee that she would marry, Edwin Ekdahl, a local businessman, whom she had known for about six months. Lee and Edwin became close friends, but this came to a quick halt as Edwin and Marguerite started arguing. They finally decided it was in everyone’s best interest to get a divorce; so they separated in the summer of 1948. Due to a lack of money, Marguerite was then forced to move Lee and her family into a poor house. Because his family was constantly on the move, Lee never stayed in school long (Posner 8).
Marguerite kept her family moving around, mainly back and forth from Texas to Louisiana. His mother also had a depressing attitude towards life. In January of 1950, John Pic left home to join the Coast Guard. Soon after, Robert also left home to join the Marines, leaving only Lee and his mother (Posner 10). In the summer of 1952, Marguerite and Lee moved to New York. However, this caused problems for Lee; because New York did not allow children to skip school. He was put on probation and was evaluated by a psychiatrist who said, “Vivid fantasy life, turning around topics of omnipotence.” (Parshall 72) This basically meant that Lee was in his own world and did not seem to pay much attention to the happenings in the real world. He was once asked if he preferred the company of boys or girls, to this question he responded,, “I dislike everybody.” (Parshall 72). By the psychiatrist account and by his own mother’s accounts, Lee was an independent loner as a child. To keep Lee from being put into a shelter, Marguerite fled New York and went back to Texas. Oswald started to read books on, and become heavily interested in the ideas of Marxism (Parshall 72). Like his brother Robert, Lee also wanted to join the Marines.
Oswald did eventually join the Marines a week after he turned seventeen. Oswald would never obtain a high school diploma, and he recorded a below-average score on his aptitude test. Oswald was assigned to the Second Training Battalion of the Marines. Three weeks after training had begun, Oswald scored a 212 on his rifle test. He qualified as a “sharpshooter” (Posner 21). Oswald never became friends with the other Marines because they made fun of him calling him “Ozzie Rabbit” (Parshall 72). Oswald also received two court marshals, while he was serving in the Marines. After two years of service, he was given an early discharge (Parshall 72). After Oswald’s discharge, he began his plans to become a Russian citizen. Oswald sailed to England and then continued on to Moscow (Beck 71). Oswald went to the USSR embassy, where he offered to tell them everything he knew about the US and all of the military secrets he learned of while serving in the Marines (Beck 71).
Victor Nosenko, a KGB agent assigned to watch Oswald said, “The KGB was not at all interested in him.” (Posner 48). The KGB felt Oswald had nothing to offer them. Oswald asked for citizenship but was denied. He then went back to his hotel to commit suicide. Oswald slashed his wrists and stuck them in cold water to relieve the pain. Oswald was later revived at a Russian hospital. The Russians had two psychiatrists observe and interview him. They found him both mentally and physically unstable to live without supervision and care. The KGB did not want to be held responsible for the death of an American tourist in Russia so they allowed Oswald to stay in Russia (Parshall 65). Oswald received an apartment in Minsk, which was paid for by the Russian Government. He also was given a job at a radio factory. While in Russia, Oswald met his first love, Ella Germann. He was to proposed marriage to her, but she would not accept. His opinion of Russia started to change; he started to feel that it was not what he dreamed it would be (Posner 60). Oswald also met his future wife, Marina. Marina was a Pharmacology student who worked at a local Russian hospital.
Lee and Marina married and had one child while in Russia. When Oswald grew tired of life in Russia, he asked the US embassy for help in allowing him to leave Russia. After filling out forms in triplicate, Oswald and his family were allowed to leave Russia to return to the US (Posner 71). The US gave Oswald a loan to get him and his family back to the US The loan was also used to get them started in a new life in America (Posner 72). While back in the US Oswald held many jobs. He always seemed to lose them for either not working or saying the job was degrading. Oswald worked to pay his loan off as fast as he could. Once the loan was paid off, he started to buy some material things. Two of the first things he purchased were a revolver and a Mannlicher-Carcano Rifle from a mail-order catalogue known as Klein’s Sporting goods (Posner 103). Oswald met a man by the name of George de Mohenschildt, an aristocratic Russian left-winged person. Mohenschildt taught Oswald to hate right-wing people (Beck 72).
Oswald and Mohenschildt became very close friends. Mohenschildt would go over to Oswald’s home often to talk about politics (Posner 100). Oswald learned of General Walker, a right-winged person, who was going to run for Governor of Texas. Oswald started to take photos of Walker’s home and plotted out ways of getting to his home (Posner 112). The following week, Oswald crept up to Walker’s home with his Mannlicher-Carcano rifle (Parshall 72). He saw General Walker sitting in his home; then, Oswald aimed his rifle at General Walker and fired a shot at him; However, the shot missed Walker and hit the wood going across the double window in his home (Posner 114). General Walker thought it was a firecracker that a child had thrown in through his window. Oswald then ran and buried his rifle. After burying his rifle, he ran home. The police were looking for a rifle with a .30-06 shell size.
On Easter Sunday, Oswald went to retrieve his rifle (Posner 115-116). Now after hearing this, many people begin to think, how could a man shoot the President three times, while he is moving in a car, from at least a hundred yards away; when he cannot hit a stationary target only about twenty feet away. Well, many people believe that the shot Oswald fired was not meant to hit General Walker, but was supposed to be a warning shot to make him worried so he would possibly take back his candidacy for Governor. Oswald and his family moved to New Orleans so he could look for work. Oswald was forced to apply for unemployment money which was $33 a month. Oswald then decided that he wanted to defect to Cuba, so he went to the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City. During this time, Oswald’s wife Marina returned to Dallas to live with Ruth Paine, a close family friend. Oswald saved some money so that he could make the trip to Mexico. Eventually, Oswald left New Orleans on a Greyhound bus on his way to Mexico City (Posner 170). Once Oswald arrived in Mexico, he travelled to the Cuban Embassy to ask for a visa to go to Cuba. The Cubans told Oswald that he needed a Soviet Visa in order to gain a Cuban Visa. Oswald then travelled to the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City. Once there, he told the Soviets that his life was in danger if he did not gain access to the Soviet Union.
The Soviet diplomats at the embassy found Oswald to be unstable (Beck 72). The Cubans showed no interest in what Oswald had to say (Parshall 72). Oswald then returned to Dallas, where he was disappointed that the Cubans did not want him. He lived in a rooming house, while Marina lived with Ruth Paine. Oswald got a job working at a school book depository in downtown Dallas (Beck 72). At this time, President John F. Kennedy had made his motorcade route for the Dallas trip. The motorcade route was published in the Dallas papers on the 19th and 20th of November (Beck 72). The motorcade route would ride up Houston Street, and then make a sharp turn on to Elm street passing right in front of the book depository.
On the evening of November 21, 1963, Oswald asked Marina to move back in with him. She refused, she said she wanted to stay with Ruth. The next morning she woke up, and he was gone. He left his wedding ring and $170 (Beck 72). On the morning of November 22, 1963, Oswald went to Buell Frazier’s home. He was caring a long object wrapped in paper. He then put the object into the back seat of Frazier’s car. Frazier asked him what was in the package, Oswald replied, “curtain rods” (Sniper’s nest p71). Frazier and Oswald always walked together to the book depository, but On November 22, Oswald walked swiftly to the depository. Other workers said that he did not follow his normal routine of reading yesterday’s newspaper (Posner 224).
Oswald went up to the sixth floor of the depository where he learned the direction in which the president would becoming. One of the workers, Charles Givens asked Oswald, “Boy, are you going downstairs? Is it near lunchtime?” Oswald said, “No, sir.” Oswald is now alone on the sixth floor of the book depository to assemble the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle and move the boxes of books into the position to make a three side shield so that no one could see him firing at the president (Sniper’s Nest 76). Oswald was set and ready to fire at the President of the United States. During this time, the motorcade came up Houston Street and turned down on Elm Street. The first shot was fired; it misses the president. The people around the motorcade think that one of the motorcycles backfired. The second shot fires; it hit President Kennedy. The driver then slows the car down to a near stop. The President’s head tilts to the left where the final shot hit him on the right side of his head. Howard L. Brennan was watching the motorcade on Elm Street. He noticed a rifle on the sixth floor of the book depository. He saw the rifle fire at the president’s car. He later told the police everything he saw, this gave the police the description of Oswald (Warren Report 5). After Oswald fired the final shot, he leaves the sniper’s nest towards the rear staircase. Oswald drops the rifle between two boxes on the sixth floor of the depository. He then proceeds down the stairs to the second floor. He enters the lunchroom where a police officer stops Oswald. Oswald’s supervisor told the police officer that Oswald works here (Sniper’s Nest 82).
Oswald then stops to purchase a coke and figure out how he is going to escape. He decides to go out the front entrance on Elm Street (Posner 264). Oswald decided to wait for a bus, but he thought it would be too risky; so he walked east on Elm Street away from the depository to the next bus stop (Sniper’s Nest 83). He got the bus at the bus stop. Traffic was backed up because of the shooting. Oswald then asked if he could get off the bus, then asked for a cab (Posner 266). Oswald told the cab driver to go to the 500 blocks of North Beckley. This was where his rooming house was. Oswald got off at the 700 blocks of North Beckley. He was now five minutes from his rooming house (267). Oswald then went to his rooming house. While at his rooming house, Oswald grabbed his jacket and a revolver. He then walked out of the rooming house and started walking down the block. By this time, his description went over the dispatch to officers all over Dallas. Officer J.D. Tippet stopped Oswald. He asked Oswald a few questions.
Tippet then got out of the car; Oswald pulled out his revolver and shot him down. Oswald then ran to the Dallas Theater where he was apprehended (Sniper’s Nest 86-87). Oswald was taken down to the police headquarters for questioning. The police made a strong case against Oswald. They proved the rifle was his and they found the paper he had it wrapped in (United Press International 63-65). After the questioning, Oswald was being transferred. As Oswald and the police officers exited the Police station through the basement, Jack Ruby fired a shot into Oswald. Oswald died at a hospital in Dallas. Jack Ruby was then charged with the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald. The evidence found in the last thirty years has shown some controversy over how Lee Harvey Oswald could have assassinated John F. Kennedy. The contrasting ideas of experts cause many theories as to how the president was shot. The evidence that points to Lee Harvey Oswald is that his fingerprints were all over the rifle and the boxes in the book depository (Sniper’s Nest 79). This proves that Oswald was in the sniper’s nest that he made.
The second bullet fired by Lee Harvey Oswald that hit Kennedy and Connally has been debated because of how can a bullet travel through a person and still come out looking like an unfired bullet. In the movie JFK, Oliver Stone states a theory that one bullet went through Kennedy’s neck through the front, not the back. He also believes that governor Connally was hit by a totally different bullet coming from behind. In order for Oswald to hit the president and Connally; he would have had to hit Kennedy and Connally with one bullet. This has become to be known as the “Single Bullet Theory”. The Single Bullet Theory” states that the shot fired from the book depository by Oswald went through the back of Kennedy’s neck and came out just below his Adam’s apple. Then the same bullet enters Connally through the middle of the back. It then comes out below his right nipple. The bullet ratchets off Connally’s wrist into his thigh. The bullet is later found on Connally’s stretcher at Parkland Hospital.
In order to prove the “Single Bullet Theory,” An autopsy was performed on President Kennedy. The Doctors observed the wound in the neck around Kennedy’s Adam’s apple. Dr. Carrico said, “With those facts and the facts as I understand it, no other bullet was found this would be, this was, I believe, was an exit wound. Dr. Perry “…I believe it was an exit wound” (Warren Report 89). Since the wound near Kennedy’s Adam’s apple was an exit wound, it would prove that the shot was fired from behind Kennedy. This proves that the shot came from the book depository. The fatal shot to the head of Kennedy has been a strong point to many theories. In the Movie JFK, Oliver Stone states a theory that the fatal shot came from the grassy knoll. He supported his theory by using witnesses who said they saw a puff of smoke by the grassy knoll. In contrast to Oliver Stone’s theory, on the day of the assassination, there were a 20 miles per hour wind which would have caused the puff of smoke to have been blown away. Also, modern ammunition is smokeless (Sniper’s nest 86).
Oliver Stone states that Kennedy’s head moves back and to the left. Proving the shot came from the grassy knoll. In the Autopsy, the report stated the shot entered the lower portion of the head and exited out the right side of Kennedy’s skull (Warren Report 109). In the Zapruder film about the assassination, it shows at frame 313, the bullet struck Kennedy in the head. “It [Kennedy’s head] moves slightly to the left and downward, just for two or three frames, which is consistent with a bullet striking it from behind and nowhere else, because the momentum of the bullet is imparted” (Cockburn 295). With the entry wound coming from behind, this would mean that the bullet had to have come from the book depository. The only unanswered question is why would Oswald assassinate the president.
This question has not been answered by any of the top critics. Most critics do not know that he came from a broken family with only one parent. In the movie the JFK, Oliver Stone never shows an actual history of Oswald as a child. He never states Oswald’s mother’s life or how Oswald tried to assassinate General Walker. These issues are important in how Oswald’s personality is made up. He was a child that never had many friends or had anyone really close to him. The only person he had was his wife, and she turned him away on the eve of the assassination. He finally broke down and did something that he would be noticed for. Lee Harvey Oswald was a man with a mission in life, to be noticed. He now is noticed as the man who assassinated the brightest president our country has ever seen. Our country should put to rest the assassination by releasing the classified documents that list the information of the FBI and CIA findings.
Although many people argue many points on this crucial event, after seeing these facts, it is indisputable in my mind that Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated the President. Not only did he do it, but he acted alone. There are many possible reasons; First, he may have been doing it because he was upset about how the “American Dream” failed him. Second, he may have done it because he was in a state of despair from being shunned by his wife. A third reason, which I believe played a large role is that maybe Oswald did it to get the attention of the Cubans and the Soviets, who in no way, shape, or form cared for Kennedy. By doing this he may have hoped to be allowed into Cuba.
Beck, Melinda. “The Mind Of The Assassin.” Newsweek. November 22, 1993.
Cockburn, Alexander. “In Defense Of The Warren Commission.” The Nation. March 9, 1992.
JFK. Directed by Oliver Stone. With Kevin Costner, Woody Harrelson, and Joe Pesci. Warner Brothers: 1991.
Parshall, Gerald. “The Man With A Deadly Smirk.” US News And World Report. August 30-September 6, 1993.
Posner, Gerald. “Sniper’s Nest.” US News And World Report. August 30- September 6, 1993. Posner, Gerald. Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and The Assassination of JFK. New York: Random House, 1993.
United Press International and American Heritage Magazine Four Days: A Historical record Of The Death Of President Kennedy. New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1993.
The Warren Report. President’s Commission On The Assassination of President Kennedy: Associated Press.