November 22, 1963, marked one of the most unforgettable days in the history of the United States. It was the day Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated John F. Kennedy as he moved through Dealey Plaza in Dallas.
The assassination has birthed countless conspiracy theories on the possible reason why the president, popularly known as JFK, was murdered. This article explores who Lee Harvey Oswald was, what events led to the assassination of the president, and the possible motivations Lee had for committing such a heinous crime.
Oswald was born October 18, 1939, in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. He never got to know his father as he passed away a few months before his birth from a heart attack.
His mother raised him and his other two siblings, Robert and John, alone. His childhood wasn’t without difficulties as he lived in over twenty different residences and schooled in over eleven schools.
When Oswald was 12 years old, he was put in juvenile detention for exhibiting truancy, and it was at this time a psychiatrist examined him.
The psychiatrist assessed Oswald and found that he was emotionally disturbed because of the kind of family life he had. His lack of a father figure and constant rejection by friends and family contributed to Oswald’s unstable emotional nature.
Robert, Oswald’s brother, said he feared their mother would give them up for adoption as they were a burden to her.
At age 17, he quit high school and joined the Marines. He was accepted and given a security clearance; it was at this time he learned how to shoot a rifle. His time wasn’t smooth for him as he was punished on three accounts.
First, he was found with an unauthorized weapon he used to shoot himself accidentally. Second, he was punished for physically fighting with a superior, and lastly, he was punished for inappropriately discharging his firearm while on patrol. He also had enough time to learn to speak Russian during this time.
After being court-martialed as a marine twice, he was jailed. He was then released from active service in the Marine corps to the Marine Corps Reserve. He left the Marines completely and defected to the Soviet Union in October 1959.
Oswald’s act made the news and was reported by the Associated Press at this time, but his motive wasn’t known.
He settled in Minsk, Byelorussia, where he met a Russian woman, Marina. They started together, got married, and had a daughter.
In June 1962, Oswald returned to the United States with his wife and settled in Dallas, where they had their second daughter. However, Oswald was disappointed that the press didn’t report his return this time.
In March 1963, Oswald coined the alias “A. Hidell,” which he used to make a mail-order purchase of a Carcano rifle. He used the same method to get a Wesson Model 10 revolver.
Oswald was known to bear Marxist and communist beliefs and would usually speak against the U.S. government and anti-communist entities.
This was seen as part of his motivation in his attempted assassination of retired U.S. Major General Edwin Walker, an anti-communist, on April 10, 1963.
Oswald was said to have carried out the shooting less than 100 feet away as Walker sat at a desk in his Dallas home. He used the Carcano rifle, which struck the window frame, and bullet fragments from the gun hit Walker on his forearm, leading to mild injuries.
The United States House Select Committee on Assassinations declared that the “evidence strongly suggested” that Oswald was responsible for the shooting.
A few days before President Kennedy’s arrival in Texas, the local newspapers had published the route of Kennedy’s motorcade. He was going to pass through the Texas School Book Depository, where Oswald worked.
On November 22, 1963, Oswald requested his co-worker Frazier for a lift to Irving, stating that he had to pick up some rods. He appeared to work the next day with a large paper bag, to which he responded that it contained some curtain rods.
But before leaving home, he left $170 and his wedding ring, signaling a possibility of no return.
As Kennedy’s motorcade drove through Dealey Plaza at about 12:30 p.m. on November 22, Oswald fired thrice using his rifle from the southeast-corner window on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository.
One shot missed the vehicle completely; the other struck Kennedy, passed through his body, and struck Texas Governor John Connally. The third shot was fatal as it struck Kennedy in the head, killing him.
Oswald was captured in a theater after killing a police officer with four fatal shots. He was arrested and charged with the murders of President John F. Kennedy and patrolman J.D. Tippit.
Two days after JFK’s assassination, he was shot in the abdomen by Jack Ruby. Both Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby were stated to have not been involved in any conspiracy and acted alone.
Oswald identified as a socialist for most of his life; he was said to call himself a Marxist and a strong believer in communism. He wanted to be recognized as an important political figure. He achieved some recognition when he appeared on television and radio in New Orleans in the summer of 1963 when his Fair Play for Cuba activities was reported.
However, Oswald’s dream of becoming a statesman was damaged when television presenter Bill Stuckey made statements about his defection to Russia, which displaced Oswald’s status as an objective spokesman for Castro’s communist regime.
In addition to his narcissism, Lee Harvey Oswald’s failure as a man, a husband, a worker, and a Marine led him to embrace communism, and his desperate attempts to be recognized as an important person provoked him to kill President Kennedy.