We can't rule out second gunman, says JFK's niece
The niece of John F Kennedy has refused to rule out the possibility of a second gunman being involved in the assassination of her uncle 50 years ago this week.
"I don't know, I don't know," Kathleen Kennedy Townsend told a television interviewer yesterday when asked if she believed that Lee Harvey Oswald really was the only assassin.
However, Mrs Kennedy Townsend, a former governor of Maryland and the eldest daughter of Robert F Kennedy, said that continuing to focus on the unanswered questions surrounding the assassination – including the classified CIA files – would not solve anything now.
"I'm not going to solve that problem and what I'm going to do is focus on things to make a difference," she told Fox News. "It was a really terrible time in our country's legacy."
Her remarks came at the beginning of what is expected to be an emotional week of recollections and remembrance services for JFK, a president who came to embody a brand of unfettered US optimism many feel was never matched after his death in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.
A Gallup survey showed that almost two thirds of Americans (61pc) still believed others besides Oswald were involved, although that figure is the lowest in nearly 50 years.
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama, accompanied by former president Bill Clinton, will lay a wreath at the Arlington National Cemetery where the eternal flame in memory of JFK has burned since being lit on the day of his funeral by his wife, Jackie Kennedy. On Wednesday evening, Mr Obama will deliver a speech on Kennedy's political legacy in Washington.
As well as a host of small nationwide events, dignitaries will gather on Friday in Dealey Plaza, where the president was shot, for an hour-long remembrance.
The service will include readings from JFK's most resonant speeches by the historian David McCullough and a military fly-past. Church bells will be rung in Dallas and in several cities across America and there will be a moment of silence at 12.30pm.
The ring of the bells will bring back powerful memories for those who were alive at the time of Kennedy's assassination, including the then 16-year-old daughter of Lyndon B Johnson. Johnson was sworn in as the 36th US president hours after the assassination.
Luci Johnson Turpin, now 66, was sitting in school in Washington DC when a younger pupil burst in to say that the president had been shot, changing her life forever. "The bells in the National Cathedral began to ring, and ring and ring," she said.
Mrs Johnson Turpin recalled how shattered she was at the news.
That day, as her father flew back to Washington, a Secret Service agent was sent to pick her up from school, and she recalled trying to run away rather than face the trauma of what had happened. (© Daily Telegraph, London)