Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 24, 2012

Jack Ruby and Lee Harvey Oswald

November 24, 1963: Lee Harvey Oswald is murdered by Jack Ruby. Oswald was born in New Orleans on October 18, 1939; he had two older brothers and a half-brother, John Pic. Oswald and his mother were living in New York City with Pic in 1952 when they were kicked out after Oswald threatened Pic’s wife with a knife. Oswald was psychiatrically assessed at a juvenile reformatory and was found to have a “vivid fantasy life, turning around the topics of omnipotence and power, through which he tries to compensate for his present shortcomings and frustrations.” Although further treatment was recommended, Oswald’s mother took him back South and provided no more help.

By age 15, he had declared himself a Marxist. By the age of 17 he had lived in 22 different places and attended 12 different schools. Although he was an avid reader, he could not spell or write coherently. Just after his seventeenth birthday, he enlisted in the US Marine Corps. He was trained primarily as a radar operator – a position which required a security clearance, something that was granted. He was court-martialed twice while serving (once for shooting himself with an unauthorized gun and once for fighting with a sergeant) and sent to the brig briefly. He had risen to private first class but was demoted back to private and he was in trouble again while stationed in the Philippines.

He received a hardship discharge in September 1959, stating his mother needed his help. Out of the service and back home, he defected to the USSR in October 1959 just before he turned 20. He had been teaching himself Russian while in the Marines and had saved up $1,500 from his salary. He got to Moscow and they refused his offer to defect. He slit his wrist and was placed under psychiatric evaluation. Eventually he went to Minsk as a lathe operator but grew bored. He asked for re-admittance to the US via the embassy in Moscow. Before that could be accomplished his daughter was born. In June  1962 Oswald, his wife, and daughter left to return to the US.

The family settled in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and yet he was still dissatisfied with his life. He moved back to New Orleans, went to Mexico for a short time, and returned to Dallas in October 1963. At about 12:30 PM on November 22, 1963 Oswald fired three rifle shots from the six floor corner window of the Book Depository. President John F. Kennedy was killed and Texas Governor John Connally was seriously wounded. He was captured little more than an hour later and taken to the Dallas Police Headquarters. On this day, as he was being taken to the county jail, Jack Ruby stepped from the crowd, and shot Oswald in the abdomen. He died at the same hospital at his victim, President Kennedy.

And that is my definition of democracy, the right to be in a minority and not be suppressed.

I always felt that the Cubans were being pushed into the Soviet Bloc by American policy.

I don’t know why you are treating me like this. The only thing I have done is carry a pistol into a movie.

I hear they burn for murder. Well, they say it just takes a second to die. – all from Lee Harvey Oswald

Also on this day:

Little Jamie – in 1993, James Bulger’s murderers are found guilty.
Jump to Nowhere – In 1971, Dan Cooper jumped from a plane and was never seen again.
Wilt the Stilt – In 1960, the basketball player garnered another record.

Warren Commission formed

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 29, 2010

Lee Harvey Oswald posing with his mail order weapons in May 1963

November 29, 1963: President Lyndon B. Johnson forms a commission to investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. The Warren Commission was headed by Chief Justice of the United States Earl Warren and consisted of Representatives Hale Boggs [D- Louisiana] and Gerald Ford [R- Michigan], Senators John Sherman [R-Kentucky] and Richard Russell, Jr. [D-Georgia], Allen Dulles – former director of the CIA, and John J. McCloy – former president of the World Bank.

The conclusion reached by the Commission after exhaustive study was that Lee Harvey Oswald was working alone. Oswald could not be questioned as he had been shot and killed by Jack Ruby in front of millions of television viewers while Oswald was in police custody on November 24, 1963. Oswald is said to have fired three shots. The first shot struck President Kennedy in the upper back, passed through his body and then struck Governor John Connally. The second shot is said to have missed its target. The third shot struck the President in the head. The total time for the shots was 4.8 to 5.6 seconds.

Was the Commission merely a cover-up? There is controversy over the issue even today. Three later US government investigations agree with the Warren Commission’s finding of the number of shots fired and Oswald acting alone. The 26 volumes of testimony is not without criticism. Only one of the 94 witnesses were heard by everyone on the Commission. The star witness, Howard Brennan, had inconsistencies in his testimony. The Commission found fault with the Secret Service pointing out the total inadequacy of the security.

The House Select Committee on Assassinations felt that there was a fourth shot fired, by someone on the “grassy knoll” based on acoustic evidence. This fourth shot missed, but it meant that Oswald was not acting alone. The debate continues, books and movies have been produced siding with lone shooter or conspiracy theory. We may never really know.

“It is important that all of the facts surrounding President Kennedy’s Assassination be made public in a way which will satisfy people in the United States and abroad all that the facts have been told and a statement to this effect be made now.” – Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, November 25, 1963

“What was really drawing me to the material was entirely unresolved feelings I still had from the age of 17. The Kennedy assassination was something that to me made no sense.” – John Weidman

“The ’50s was the last good decade of American history. It was really a 10-year vacation between the horror of World War II and the assassinations [John F. and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr.] and Vietnam War of the 1960s. The ’50s was the last feel-good era.” – Richard Lindberg

“Assassination has never changed the history of the world.” – Benjamin Disraeli

Also on this day, in 1877 Thomas Alva Edison demonstrated the phonograph.