The Assassination of John F. Kennedy
James L. Swanson
Copyright 2013 by James L. Swanson
“He was not attending the lunch planned for more than two thousand people in Dallas. Nor was he a political opponent of John Kennedy’s who planned to protest his policies with a homemade, hand-lettered cardboard sign. No, this man who awaited John Kennedy in Texas had something else in mind. He wanted to kill the president.”
Tuesday, November 19, 1963, to Friday, November 22, 1963, were interesting days in American history that involve a man who wanted to kill the president. This quotation is true in so many ways throughout part two of this book, but in many ways the quotation is confusing as well. Lee Harvey Oswald actually wakes up on Tuesday, the 19th of November, not having a plan to kill the president. This interests me because in the quotation above, it states that Oswald wants to kill the president. In the second have of The Assassination of John F. Kennedy, James L. Swanson uses many clues and builds up suspense with major details that leads to the shooting of President Kennedy. He also explains facts that explain why the president was killed and what events trigger Oswald to carry through with the assassination, which I feel is a brave process to carry out.
Lee Harvey Oswald is an interesting man for many reasons. As a boy, he drops out of school and becomes a U.S. Marine after being a troublemaker in school. As a marine, Oswald does many procedures that people do not like, such as trying to pick a fight with a superior marine member just to prove he is right about an issue. Times like this make me realize that Oswald is a crazy man, as well as times when he is just temperamental, wants attention, and complains about almost everything. When young, Oswald has unfortunate times, such as his father’s death before he is born. His mother then appears to be unstable, so does this lead to his unwanted creativeness? I believe that even times as bad as what he grew up in should not drive him to shoot innocent people such as John F. Kennedy.
The assassinator has no friends to call his own and when married, his wife doesn't appear a friend for long either. Oswald has a wife and two kids that leave him after he tells them his first crazy story: He attempted assassinating General Edwin Walker. I feel attempting to assassinate a military general would be almost as risky as killing the president. This attempt of assassination interests me because I would then contradict the quotation because he wanted to shoot any important figure, not just the president. The attempt of the assassination of General Walker fails when Oswald attempts shooting the general through his window! This is a courageous act that does not pan out, so Oswald leaves right away so he doesn't get caught.
Oswald realizes after this assassination attempt that if he does this again, he will need much more planning, which leads into going after JFK. Oswald works at the Texas School Book Depository during this time, which is right in Dallas. Oswald reads the paper from other people he works with and finds out that President Kennedy will be going through on the 22nd, and Oswald finds the exact route. At this point, I realize that Oswald is definitely not trying to eat lunch or be a political opponent to the president, as stated in the quotation. Oswald feels he needs to do something that will be remembered throughout history, and as a very self-centered man who doesn't care about other people’s feelings, he begins to develop the second part of the quotation with a detailed plan: an attempt to assassinate the president.
With assassination on his mind, ideas start to generate, and not in a good way. Suspiciously, Wednesday night and into Thursday Oswald plans out what he will do on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. He notices many boxes stacked on this floor, and Oswald takes advantage. He scans the whole south side, where fourteen windows appear from one end to the other. Oswald chooses the window furthest to the southeast, and here he starts setting up boxes. The boxes get stacked nearly to the top so many people cannot look in when the shooting occurs. Although very cruel, I’m surprised by this action and feel that Oswald is obviously very crafty in not showing that he just is not just a “political opponent” or just “attending the lunch” of Mr. Kennedy. Attending lunch or having a political view on the President are only two of the many reasons that citizens gathered in Dallas, but Oswald has other ideas in mind.
With planning beginning on the sixth floor, Oswald goes to visit his kids. He normally visits them every weekend, but this time, he visits them on a Thursday night. Oswald is able to sneak into the garage of where his wife lives during this time and puts his gun with a site, that he receives when he’s a little boy, into a brown bag. I find an interesting section to this part missing: Wouldn't his wife be extremely confused on why he came on a Thursday night? The next day, when his friend picks him up to go to work, Oswald is asked what is in the brown bag. Oswald answers with saying “curtain rods” are in the bag, which makes me understand that he is a liar to the extreme in many cases. Oswald arrives at work, and I’m beginning to get more convinced that the quotation will become true: The man is actually going to carry through with his attempt to assassinate John F. Kennedy.
With his rifle successfully getting to his work, Oswald thinks about his plan from the time he arrives, eight o’clock, to the time the president should drive by in his limousine with his wife, around 11:30. Ironically, President Kennedy makes this statement to his wife before leaving the Hotel Texas to fly to Dallas: “You know, last night would have been a hell of a night to assassinate a president. There was the rain, and the night, and we were all getting jostled. Suppose a man had a pistol in a briefcase and melted away into the crowd?” This quotation makes me feel the President is tying in his own safety with the quotation involving his lunch with the public and the protests. Kennedy talks to the press and many people, then goes with his wife on the limousine on a parade through the heart of Dallas.
With the parade beginning, Oswald is getting ready as well. He was trained by the marines to shoot at many distances, and he has a clear shot at the back of the president’s head. Whether he is standing or kneeling, or uses boxes for support or doesn't, is unknown because evidence can not show enough. The president then drives by, and Oswald misses on his first shot and many feel something minor occurred, such as a motorcycle backfire. Then, the second shot occurred, and this one hit the president in the back, then hit the governor of Texas. Oswald had still not killed the president. By this time, I figured Oswald would stop and reconsider killing the president of America. Oswald though, was stuck on killing the president and ruining his “lunch planned with two thousand people”, as well as his life. Oswald shot a third bullet, and this time, he hit right in the back of Kennedy’s skull, making the entire right side of his head burst open. This is a gruesome scene to picture, and the quotation unfortunately becomes true: Lee Harvey Oswald kills the president. I am extremely shocked that Oswald had the heart to continue, even on to the second bullet. This proves that the man had a mission that will definitely be remembered as he wanted, but in a bad way.
After killing the president, Oswald kills a police officer and goes into the movie theater. Witnesses spot this, and police then find him in a movie theater. Oswald is arrested for two murders that will forever be remembered in American history. Relating back to the quotation, Oswald ends up reaching his “goal” of proving he did not want lunch with the president, or to protest: he just wanted to kill the man. I am shocked that Oswald does this. Yes, his childhood is rough, but can his past experiences really drive him to murder the president? I feel people in today’s world should know of the incident, but this is what Oswald would want: to be talked about by millions of Americans. Furthermore, I feel this unfortunate because the issue needs to be known by Americans, but the publicity for Oswald increased. Whether good or bad talk from the public, Oswald is discussed by many. With this assassination, I believe our country should stay having top security on presidents. A caring man such as Kennedy should never be assassinated, and those who have extreme issues to kill for no reason, such as Oswald, should do the following: look at the bright side of life and do what is right for public recognition, NOT what is wrong.