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Remembering a fallen president


Nov. 22, 1963, was supposed to be a joyous day for Dallas residents as President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and his wife Jackie Kennedy rode through the Dealey Plaza.

Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States and the youngest to be elected to office.

His two-day, five city tour of Texas was a plan to campaign for the next Presidential election. Kennedy’s goal for the trip was to bring Democrats together.

He was aware that a small but vocal group of extremists was contributing to the political tensions in Texas and would make its presence felt in Dallas, but that did not deter him from being near the people.


Pierce Allman, WFAA Program Manager of 1963, described Kennedy to the Los Angels Times as a different breed of politician. He thought Kennedy had uncommon skills that made him a cut above, one of the more politician actors to appear on the scene in some time.

“I think the Kennedy’s represented hope and promise. I think it was the abrupt loss of what might have been that caused everyone to react the way they did.”

The minute Kennedy got off the plane at Love Field he ignored the guidelines on the tarmac that had been tapped off and went straight to the fence. Allman said Kennedy did this because that is where the people were, and he just started shaking their hands.

Allman told the Los Angels Times that he was sitting in the studio watching and thinking that guy is just incredibly natural. He said Kennedy took the bubble top off his car and told the secret service guys not to walk and not to get on the running board of the car where they were supposed to be.

Kennedy wanted people to feel that he was approachable. This led Allman to want to walk over and watch part of the motorcade. “I had been looking up at all the rooftops and all the open windows,” Allman said. “I was just struck by the president and Mrs. Kennedy. They were just so attractive, and I was so carried away I think I hollered out like ‘Hey Welcome to Dallas Mr. President’ and they turned the corner and boom.”


“That first sound was so enormous and then what followed was so fast and yet I can remember to this day all of it,” Allman said.

Everything happened in a split second. At first Allman thought it was a firecracker then the second shot rang out and he heard Jackie scream. “She screamed oh my god without any interval and then the third shot rang out,” he said.

Kennedy then had a violent reaction to that sound. He reached for hi neck and started to lean towards Jackie.

The second shot went through the back of Kennedy’s head and out the top, spraying Jackie with
blood and causing her to get up out of the back seat and crawled trying to the back of the car.

Secret Service Agent Clint Hill ran over to the left rear fender of the limo and pushed them down and started screaming; ‘go, go, go.’

People started to scatter under the triple underpass. “When it penetrates your consciousness that it was a shot and you realize they are not just shooting at another human being but at the president,” Allman said. “It’s a sense of total unreality. This can’t be happening, not here.”

Immediately after Allman witnessed the shooting, he ran to the nearest phone to report what he had seen. President Kennedy had been assassinated.


Since that day there have been five main speculations on the ‘what if he hadn’t died?’

Would Kennedy decrease the nation’s commitments in Southeast Asia, or would he have not responded to increased pressure from the Communist regime in North Vietnam? Lyndon Johnson who became president after Kennedy had his own take on the war, but would Kennedy’s decision been enough to inspire the anti-war movement in the 1960s?

Then there was the Civil Rights Movement in which Kennedy was known for keeping at arm’s length, because he did not officially recognize the March on Washing in 1963. What would Kennedy have done differently to the

Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Voting Rights Act of 1965? What would Vice President Johnson’s role in these acts have been?

Other speculations included Kennedy’s role in the Space Program and how much further it would have gotten and the Cold War in 1962. The respect Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, had for Kennedy and America was lost after Kennedy’s assassination and America spent a quarter of a century regaining the trust and knocking down the Berlin Wall.

One thing that everyone seems to agree on is that the Kennedy administration would have had America in better shape than the Johnson administration had left it.

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