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MARY BRASWELL: Looking Back at John F. Kennedy

HISTORY: This week is a look back at the life and assassination of President John F. Kennedy, who died 50 years ago.

Mary Braswell

Mary Braswell

Each week Albany Herald researcher Mary Braswell looks for interesting events, places and people from the past. You can contact her at (229) 888-9371 or at mary.braswell@albanyherald.com.

Considered by many to be one of the most tragic events in American history, this week marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Here is a glimpse at his life, time in office and much-too-early death.

BEFORE THE WHITE HOUSE

— On May 29, 1917, John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) was born to Joe and Rose Kennedy in Brookline, Massachusetts.

— Kennedy graduated cum laude with a bachelor of science degree from Harvard in June 1940.

— At age 24, Kennedy was sworn in as an ensign in the U.S. Navy.

— As a lieutenant, in March 1943, JFK was given command of PT-109.

— In August 1943 while in Blackett Strait in the Pacific, PT-109 was sunk by the Japanese. Eleven of the 13 crew members survived.

— On June 11, 1944, Kennedy was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal as well as a Purple Heart for his actions while in command of PT-109.

— With the full rank of lieutenant, Kennedy was honorably discharged from the Navy on March 1, 1945.

— In 1946, Kennedy was elected as a U.S. representative from Boston. He was 29 years old and was re-elected in 1948 and 1950.

— On Sept. 12, 1953, John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Lee Bouvier were married.

— The Kennedy’s daughter, Arabella, was stillborn in August 1956. In November of the following year, Caroline was born.

— In January 1960, Kennedy announced his candidacy for president. In November, Richard Nixon was defeated by JFK by two-tenths of 1 percent to become America’s 35th (and youngest at age 43) president. Three weeks after the election, John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr. was born.

WHILE IN OFFICE …

— JFK signed a bill in March 1961 which created the Peace Corps.

— Still in his first months as president, a U.S.-backed invasion of Cuba to overthrow Fidel Castro. The Bay of Pigs invasion in April was unsuccessful and brought much criticism to the Kennedy administration.

— It was in October of 1962 that American intelligence discovered that Russia was building missile sites in Cuba. Armed conflict was fully expected, but the Soviets backed off and promised not to set up the missiles.

— In June 1963, Kennedy called the civil rights struggle a “moral crisis” for America. He sent the Alabama National Guard to the University of Alabama to protect two black students who won the right to attend the university through a court order.

— In August 1963, the Kennedy’s second son, Patrick, was born five weeks early and died two days later. That same month, the U.S. and Soviet Union agreed to a nuclear test ban. The treaty was officially signed on Oct. 7.

HIS FINAL WEEK …

— Nov. 15- 18: Kennedy visited the family home in Palm Beach. He also visited Cape Canaveral, MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa and Miami, returning home to Washington late in the evening on Monday, the 18th.

— Nov. 19: Kennedy sent a presidential statement to be read at a ceremony in Gettysburg National Military Park.

Nov. 20: The president and first lady hosted a cocktail party at the White House.

— Nov. 21: Kennedy began his tour of Texas with destinations including San Antonio, Fort Worth, Dallas and Austin. The trip was to end with a relaxing weekend at Vice President Lyndon Johnson’s ranch.

NOVEMBER 22, 1963

11:40 a.m. The president, his wife and the rest of the presidential entourage arrived in Dallas aboard Air Force One The motorcade stopped twice for Kennedy to shake hands, first with some nuns and then again with some children.

12:30 p.m. Following a publicized route, President Kennedy was shot while riding in an open-top 1961 Lincoln Continental1 p.m. The president was pronounced dead at Parkland Memorial Hospital.

1:33 p.m. The public was officially notified that the shots fired at the president were fatal.

Approximately 1:50 p.m. Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested.

— 2:38 p.m. Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn in as the 36th president aboard Air Force One, carrying the president’s body and Jackie Kennedy, by Sarah T. Hughes.

— 11:26 p.m Lee Harvey Oswald was charged with the murder of President Kennedy.

AND THEN …

— On Nov. 24 at 11:21 a.m., before live television cameras, Oswald was shot to death in the basement of the Dallas Police Department by nightclub owner Jack Ruby.

— On Nov. 25, 1963 Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

— President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed the Warren Commission on Nov. 29 to investigate the assassination.

— On March 14, 1964, Ruby was convicted of murder with malice, for which he received a death sentence.

— It was Sept. 27, 1964 when the Warren Commission’s 888-page report was made public. It found that one shot wounded the president and a subsequent shot hit him in the head, killing him.

— In October 1966, an appellate court agreed to a new trial for Jack Ruby. A new trial was set for February 1967.

— On Dec. 9, 1966, Ruby was admitted to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, suffering from pneumonia. A day later, doctors realized he had cancer in his liver, lungs and brain. Three weeks later, he died in the same hospital that Kennedy had been taken to on Nov. 22, 1963.