Today is the 45th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination, the subject of a new novel and unending, inconclusive debate. We may never know the real answer about what happened that day in Dallas, although the coming years will see more and more declassified documents released to the public, finishing with Jackie O's oral history about JFK that enters the public domain in 2044 if all her children have passed on. The photos and footage of that day tells a grave story that eclipses mere words. Click for images that will still move you 45 years after the fact: Kennedy was headed to meet the press at the end of the motorcade, so most of the reporters weren't traveling — they were patiently waiting for the president to arrive. Victor Hugo King's photograph of the motorcade taking off. Justice Department spokesman Edwin Guthman was with RFK on the fateful day. He described RFK's state of mind, quoting him as saying, "There's so much bitterness, I thought they would get one of us, but Jack, after all he'd been through, never worried about it." Mary Moorman's photograph was taken right after the first shot. Kennedy's left fist is raised towards his throat, and Texas Governor John Connelly has also been shot. AP photographer Ike Altgens took a picture of President Kennedy's limousine as it proceded down Elm Street in Dealey Plaza. You can see Kennedy reaching for his throat if you look closely enough.
We can't forget the Zapruder film, later modified for widescreen viewing: Here's a look at where the Warren Commission determined the bullets fired by assassin Lee Harvey Oswald came from. The debate over whether or not there was another shooter involved still isn't completely settled. This is the view from the depository, where Oswald fired from. "I told the FBI what I had heard [two shots from behind the grassy knoll fence]," said Ken O'Donnell, "but they said it couldn't have happened that way and that I must have been imagining things. So I testified the way they wanted me to. I just didn't want to stir up any more pain and trouble for the family." This is a drawing from the autopsy photo. Here's a more graphic photo of the autopsy. Later, the autopsy process was determined to be riddled with errors. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and no one could have known how much controversy the event would spawn. "Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind," Kennedy had told the UN two years earlier. After he was sworn in, President Johnson addressed the nation: "No words are sad enough to express our sense of loss. No words are strong enough to express our determination to continue the forward thrust of America that he began." He later accepted the lengthy findings of the Warren Commission. "I wonder how it is with you, Harold? If I don't have a woman for three days, I get terrible headaches." - JFK to Harold Macmillan in Bermuda, 1961. Dwindling Club of Witnesses [Dallas Morning News]