A sunny autumn day in Dallas. A handsome young president and his beautiful wife. Gunshots. And suddenly a world of questions: Who shot Kennedy? How great a president would he have been? Would he have ended the Vietnam War? Could the bitterness and division of the late 1960s have been prevented? Was there ever, really, a Camelot? It began to seem that before the assassination and afterward lay only uncertainty. The sniper fire faded; the questions reverberate still. An excerpt from Nov. 23, 1963:
By Edward T. Folliard
DALLAS, Tex., Nov. 22- President John F. Kennedy is dead. He was shot at 12:30 p.m. CST (1:30 EST) today by an assassin, who sent a rifle bullet crashing into his right temple.
The 46-year-old Chief Executive, youngest man ever elected to the august office and the fourth holder of it to be martyred by an assassin, was shot as he was riding in an open automobile through downtown Dallas.
He never regained consciousness, and was pronounced dead at 1 p.m.
Gov. John B. Connally of Texas, who was riding with the President, sitting just in front of him, was shot twice. One bullet went through his chest. Another fractured his right wrist. His condition was described as "satisfactory."
Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, who is now the 36th President of the United States, was riding three cars behind the President, and was not a target of the assassin.
The Texan was sworn in as Mr. Kennedy's successor at 3:39 p.m. EST at Love Field Airport on the outskirts of Dallas.
He stood in the cabin of Air Force One, the Presidential plane, and repeated the oath before Federal Judge Sarah T. Hughes of the Northern District of Texas. An old leather-bound Bible was used.
Mrs. Kennedy, widow of the fallen President, stood at Mr. Johnson's left and Lady Bird Johnson at his right.
Mrs. Kennedy wore the gay, raspberry-colored suit she had on as she and her husband flew into Dallas. Her left leg was splattered with blood and her eyes were red from weeping.
After the swearing-in ceremony, Air Force One took off for Washington, carrying President Johnson, Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Kennedy and members of the White House entourage. It also carried the body of the martyred John F. Kennedy.
The assassination occurred just as the President's motorcade was leaving downtown Dallas at the end of a triumphal tour through the city's streets.
His special car-with the protective glass bubble down-was moving down an incline into an underpass that leads to a freeway route to the Dallas Trade Mart, where he was to speak.
Three shots reverberated and blood sprang from the President's face. He fell face downward. His wife clutched his head, crying, "Oh, no!"
Just a little while before he was assassinated, Jacqueline turned to her husband and said, "You can't say Dallas wasn't friendly to you." She made the remark as they rode past cheering crowds in Dallas.