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50th Anniversary of JFK's Assassination

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President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy arrive at Love Field, Dallas, Texas. Kennedy was assassinated later in the day. Photo by Cecil W. Stoughton

John F. Kennedy was shot and killed 50 years ago today as his motorcade drove through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the shooting, but never went to trial as he was also shot and killed, by a man named Jack Ruby, while he was being transported to the Dallas County Jail.

President Johnson assembled the Warren Commission (named after Chief Justice Earl Warren) to investigate the assassination. Although both the Commission and the FBI concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, there are still many people who believe in one of the several conspiracy theories that give alternate explanations as to who shot and killed the 35th President of the United States.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born on May 29th, 1917. During World War II he served in the Navy as a Commander of PT-109 and PT-50 (Motor Torpedo Boats) in the South Pacific. PT-109 was sunk on August 2, 1943. Despite being injured himself, Kennedy managed to pull a badly hurt crew member through the water by holding the man's life jacket strap in his teeth, first to one island and then to a second, where he and the rest of the surviving crew were rescued. Kennedy went on to serve in the House of Representatives from 1946 to 1952, and in the Senate from 1952 to 1960. During the 1960 Presidential election debates, the first to be televised, Kennedy famously dazzled those watching the televised debates, coming off much better (in their opinions) than his opponent, Richard Nixon. Kennedy went on to win the election, and was sworn in as the 35th President at noon on January 20, 1961.

Kennedy's presidency was filled with high notes (his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis) and some low notes (Bay of Pigs Invasion). He was a man of strong moral convictions, lending his support to the Civil Rights movement, but he was far from perfect in his personal life (his alleged infidelities are the stuff of legends). He remains to this day one of the most popular presidents in United States history.

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