The assassination of President Kennedy (1963)

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backseat of Vice-President Lyndon Johnson's Lincoln convertible
Above: View of flowers on the backseat of Vice-President Lyndon Johnson’s Lincoln convertible as it sits parked near the entrance of Parkland Hospital, Dallas, Texas, November 22, 1963. Johnson’s car was two lengths behind the car in which President Kennedy was killed.

The assassination of President Kennedy

Now in the sunny freshness of a Texas morning, with roses in her arms and a luminous smile on her lips, Jacqueline Kennedy still had one hour to share the buoyant surge of life with the man at her side. It was a wonderful hour. Vibrant with confidence, crinkle-eyed with an all-embracing smile, John F Kennedy swept his wife with him into the exuberance of the throng at Dallas’ Love Field.

This was an act in which Jack Kennedy was superbly human. Responding to the warmth his own genuine warmth evoked in others, he met his welcomers joyously, hand to hand and heart to heart. For him this was all fun as well as politics.

For his shy wife, surmounting the grief of her infant son’s recent death, this mingling demanded a grace and gallantry she soon would need again. Then the cavalcade, fragrantly laden with roses for everyone, started into town. Eight miles on the way, in a sixth-floor window, the assassin waited. All the roses, like those here abandoned in Vice President Johnson’s car, were left to wilt.

They would be long-faded before a stunned nation would fully comprehend its sorrow.

The assassination of President Kennedy

She said goodbye with a kiss and a ring

Jacqueline Kennedy was sitting beside her husband when he was shot. She held him in her arms in the desperate dash to the hospital. She was with him when they put his body in the casket in Dallas, and there she said farewell with a kiss and slipped the wedding band from her own finger onto his.

Her hand lightly touched the casket as it was carried to an ambulance in Dallas, and she refused to leave it even long enough to alight from the presidential plane in Washington by the passenger ramp. Instead, she stayed with it on the cargo lift which lowered the casket to the ground, and jumped down herself, hand in hand with Attorney General Robert Kennedy, to ride with it to Bethesda Naval Hospital and back at last to the White House.

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Never, in that long, long afternoon and night, did she leave him, even to change the blood-stained suit she wore away from Dallas.

The assassination of President Kennedy

The assassination of President Kennedy

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