This year marks the 53rd anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. You probably know it happened in Dallas, that Lee Harvey Oswald killed the President, and that he was gunned down by Jack Ruby. You’ve probably heard about the grassy knoll and several conspiracy theories. But there are five things you probably didn’t know about that fateful day.
1. Oswald was never arrested for killing JFK. He was actually arrested for fatally shooting a police officer, Dallas patrolman J.D. Tippit, 45 minutes after killing Kennedy. He denied killing either one and, as he was being transferred to the county jail two days later, he was shot and killed by Dallas nightclub operator Jack Ruby.
2. Assassinating the president was not a federal crime in 1963. Despite the assassinations of three previous U.S. president – Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, and William McKinley – killing or attempting to harm a president wasn’t a federal offense until 1965, two years after Kennedy’s death.
3. TV networks suspended shows for four days. On November 22, 1963, at 12:40 p.m. CST – just ten minutes after President Kennedy was shot – CBS broadcast the first nationwide TV bulletin on the shooting. After that, all three television networks – CBS, NBC, and ABC – interrupted their regular programming to cover the assassination for four straight days. The JFK assassination was the longest uninterrupted news event on television until the coverage of the September 11 attacks in 2001.
4. It led to the first and only time a woman swore in a U.S. president. Hours after the killing, Vice President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president aboard Air Force One, with Jacqueline Kennedy at his side, an event captured in an iconic photograph. Federal Judge Sarah Hughes administered the oath, the only woman ever to do so.
5. Oswald had tried to assassinate Kennedy foe. Eight months before Oswald assassinated JFK, he tried to kill an outspoken anti-communist, former U.S. Army Gen. Edwin Walker. After his resignation from the U.S. Army in 1961, Walker became an outspoken critic of the Kennedy administration and actively opposed the move to racially integrate schools in the South. The Warren Commission, charged with investigating Kennedy’s assassination, found that Oswald had tried to shoot and kill Walker while the retired general was inside his home. Walker suffered minor injuries from bullet fragments.