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Death in the White House - John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy
35th President 1961-1963

Assassination
President Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy arrived in Dallas, Texas, on Friday, November 22, 1963. The President was to proceed to a luncheon at the Trade Mart building. The motorcade began the eleven-mile trip from the airport. The motorcade made a sharp left turn and headed down an incline toward a triple underpass. The Texas School Book Depository building loomed over the turn. From the sixth-floor window, there was an unobstructed view of the street below. Shots rang out and in a matter of seconds it was over. The assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald started working at the Texas School Book Depository on October 16, 1963. He was described as a loner. Discontented and not happy with his life, Oswald started to show violent tendencies. Oswald left the Texas School Book Depository about three minutes after the shooting, before the police sealed the building. The President's car rushed to Parkland Hospital arriving at 12:39 p.m. Agent Hill covered the President's head and chest with his suit jacket to prevent the taking of photographs. For a moment, Mrs. Kennedy refused to release her husband whom she held in her lap. The President was placed on a stretcher and wheeled into trauma room 1. Doctors noted that the President was ashen in color, had slow irregular respiration, made no voluntary movements, had no palpable pulse, and had a few chest sounds that were thought to be heartbeats. Doctors worked intently trying to save the President. The Warren Commission states that in the absence of any neurological, muscular, or heart response the doctors concluded that efforts to revive the President were hopeless. At approximately 1 p.m., after last rites were administered, the President was pronounced dead.

Funeral Procession
The body of John F. Kennedy was returned to the White House at 4:30 a.m., November 23, 1963. The casket was placed in the East Room. The body lay-in-state in the Capitol Building November 24, 1963. Eulogies to the late President John F. Kennedy were delivered in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol on November 24, 1963, by Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, Chief Justice Earl Warren, and Speaker of the House John W. McCormack. The following is part of Mike Mansfield's eulogy:

"There was a sound of laughter; in a moment, it was no more. And so she took a ring from her finger and placed it in his hands.

There was a wit in a man neither young nor old, but a wit full of an old man's wisdom and of a child's wisdom, and then, in a moment it was no more. And so she took a ring from her finger and placed it in his hands.

There was a man marked with the scars of his love of country, a body active with the surge of a life far, far from spent and, in a moment, it was no more. And so she took a ring from her finger and placed it in his hands.

There was a father with a little boy, a little girl and a joy of each in the other. In a moment it was no more, and so she took a ring from her finger and placed it in his hands.

There was a husband who asked much and gave much, and out of the giving and the asking wove with a woman what could not be broken in life, and in a moment it was no more. And so she took a ring from her finger and placed it in his hands, and kissed him and closed the lid of a coffin..."

President Kennedy's funeral began at 10:00 a.m., November 25, 1963. Mrs. Kennedy and the family came to the Rotunda. At 10:50 a.m. the casket was carried from the Capitol Building to the waiting caisson. Six gray-white horses drew the casket across the city, past the White House to St. Matthew's Cathedral, and then to Arlington Cemetery. The procession stopped in front of the White House while the family and dignitaries assembled behind the caisson to walk to the cathedral. A riderless horse, Black Jack, followed behind the casket with boots reversed in the stirrups to mark the death of the rider. This is a symbol of a lost leader.

Over 200 high ranking dignitaries, heads of state, queens, and kings attended the services at St. Matthew's Cathedral and the funeral procession. Caroline and John, Jr. joined their mother in front of the cathedral. After the services they stood waiting at the bottom of the stairs as the casket was carried back to the caisson. Mrs. Kennedy leaned down and whispered to her son. John-John stood apart and raised his hand in a salute as the casket passed.

The bands resumed the march after the service, past the Lincoln Memorial to Arlington. The body was brought to its last resting-place; the bands played the national anthem. Fifty jet planes flew over, one for each state, plus Air Force One. Then Cardinal Cushing said a prayer followed by the presidential salute of 21 guns. Servicemen who had accompanied the body rigidly holding the flag over the casket folded the flag and presented it to Mrs. Kennedy after the playing of "Taps". At 3:16 p.m., the funeral services for John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States of America, concluded.