This week marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of America's beloved President John Fitzgerald Kennedy or as he was affectionately called, JFK. The November 22nd, 1963, tragedy that occurred as the 35th leader of the United States of America and his elegant wife Jacqueline, were riding in an open motorcade through downtown Dallas, is regarded as a defining moment in American history, one that many will never forget.
Why a lone gunman by the name of Lee Harvey Oswald decided to shoot this charismatic man who had brought so much hope to the country, remains a mystery to this day - That's because two days after the assassination, while being transferred from the police headquarters to the county jail, Oswald was shot and killed by Dallas resident Jack Ruby.
In 1964, the Warren Commission set up to investigate the President's death concluded that Oswald had acted alone. However, not everyone is convinced. Over the years, many conspiracy theories have emerged - Some believe it was the Mafia, others that it was the CIA or FBI. The truth is that nobody will ever really know. The one thing everybody does know however is that John F. Kennedy is and will probably remain one of the best-loved Presidents of the United States!
America's youngest President was everything its people could hope for - Smart, handsome, brave, intelligent and most importantly, inspiring! JFK made Americans believe that they could achieve anything they set their minds to. He and his beautiful wife, Jacqueline, brought a never before seen glamour to the White House. His dapper looks and her sense of fashion were followed and revered not just by Americans, but also, people all over the world. But of course there was much more to this President than just good looks.
The World War II veteran who was born into one of America's wealthiest families, displayed amazing bravery and leadership very early in life, when a Japanese warship destroyed the boat under his command. Determined to save the 9 men that were still alive, he convinced them to swim the four miles to the nearest island. However one was too injured to make it on his own and pleaded to be left to his fate. Refusing to abandon him, JFK caught the strap of the marine's life vest by his teeth, and dragged him to safety.
As President, he fought for equal rights in a country that was still adjusting to the abolishment of segregation. It was he who asked Congress to pass the Civil Rights Bill that would give all Americans equal access to public places - the same bill that led to the now famous March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I have a dream' speech.
And his legacy does not just end on earth! It is thanks to his vision that the USA is till today, the first and only country in the world, to land men on the moon! Unfortunately, the young President did not live long enough to see either the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or, to hear Neil Armstrong's famous words - 'That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."
Besides sending shock waves around the world, the assassination changed the way US Presidents interact with the general public. Security became of paramount importance, transforming the once sleepy Secret Service Agency with its staff of 350 and budget of $3.5 million USD to a behemoth that now employs over 3,500 agents and spends $1.5 billion USD annually.
As for a President traveling in a convertible with its top down? That has never happened again. President Barack Obama travels in an armored limousine that is often dubbed 'The Beast' and for a good reason too - Equipped with its own oxygen supply and tools to give the President even a blood transfusion if necessary. It's doors weigh as much as that of a Boeing 757 and the chassis is strong enough to protect the President against biological and chemical attacks. Even the fuel tank is sealed with foam, so that it doesn't explode, if attacked.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the death of America's favorite leader most cities have planned special events. Dallas, where it all happened, is at the forefront with a week-long schedule that ends on Friday, November, 22nd, with a day of observance at the Dealey Plaza where the tragic event occurred.
The Arlington National Cemetery has re-ignited the flame over the slain President's grave and opened its doors to allow the general public to pay their respects. Among the people visiting this week, will be President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama along with former President Bill Clinton and his wife, former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Does your town, city or even school have anything planned for this momentous day? Be sure to let us know, by adding your comments below.
Resources: whowasjfk, news.yahoo.com, wikipedia.org