Saturday, 23 November 2013

50 Years Since JFK's Assassination

Fifty years ago yesterday a momentous political and historical event shocked America and the world, when, during a trip to Texas the President, John F. Kennedy was shot as his motorcade drove through Dealey Plaza on 22nd November 1963. To this day there remains some questions surrounding the assassination.

The sequence, number and direction of the shots that were fired in Texas remains a subject for debate with many believing the official government version of events to be implausible and pointing to the existence of a second shooter. Through studying the Zapruder film the Warren Commission concluded that of the three shots that were fired one missed Kennedy completely, another hit him in the neck causing a non-fatal injury, and another - the fatal shot - hit him in the head. Conspiracy theorists claim the Single Bullet explanation put forward by the Commission to explain timing discrepancies in the Zapruder film is implausible and indicates Oswald didn't act alone. It is also the case that around 40 witnesses claimed to have seen gunshots or smoke from the infamous grassy knoll in the northwest corner of Dealey Plaza. Indeed, even the murdered president’s niece, former Maryland Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, recently questioned whether her uncle’s killer acted alone.

In one of the most memorable scenes in Oliver Stone's film 'JFK', based on the book 'On The Trail of The Assassins' by Jim Garrison, the lead character is shown watching the Zapruder film - in particular frames 312 and 313. The footage appears to show Kennedy's head snapping back and to the left. According to Stone, and many other critics of the official version of what happened in Dallas, the footage is evidence that Kennedy was shot from the front. Interviewed recently on CNN Stone remarked that "Most of the witnesses saw a huge exit wound on the back of his right skull, huge. They described the cerebellum falling through the skull in the Parkland Hospital." Many theorists claim during the subsequent autopsy the back of the President's head was patched up.

In his recent book, End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy, James Swanson claims that Robert F Kennedy, who was later assassinated himself, took his brother's brain in a bid to hide the true extent of President Kennedy's illnesses. Others have claimed that the brain would help to come to a final conclusion about the direction of the fatal shot that killed Kennedy - hence its disappearance. What happened to the brain remains a mystery.

Thousands of pages of documents related to the investigation of Kennedy’s death remain classified prompting further speculation and allowing unanswered questions to remain unanswered. However in 2017 they will all be released, putting an end to many questions surrounding the President's death.