Sunday, November 24, 2013

Parkland & Killing Kennedy: John Kennedy's Assassination, Historic Moments

The assassination of President Kennedy still intrigues the world even after 50 years of his death. I used this scene from the emotional movie "Parkland" to illustrate the moment. Here you can see the person who shot the video everybody has seen showing the President's shooting, how he felt at the moment, and the President's first moments in Parkland, the hospital that received Kennedy after the shooting. Killing Kennedy is a TV movie, a good one, and it shows a different point of view of the shooting - the shooter's.

Information taken from the marvelous and informative site:

I. Talk to a partner.

1. What do you know about President Kennedy assassination?

2. Why was it so shocking at the time and why does it remain so vivid in our memories?

3. Do you believe the story there was a conspiration to kill him or do you think Lee H. Oswald acted alone? Why?

4. One of Dallas's major tourist attraction is the museum and visiting the shooting area and building. Is it okay to make money out of a tragedy like that? Explain it.

II. Read the text below:

John and Jackie Kennedy were loving parents who adored their children. Mrs. Kennedy did not like leaving Caroline and John behind, especially overnight. But the Texas trip was important and had been planned for several months. The political benefits were expected to outweigh the drawbacks of a short separation. 

Most Americans were proud of their President and his glamorous wife. Forty-six on the day he went to Dallas, Kennedy was the youngest-elected U.S. Chief Executive.  He would soon be the youngest to die.

As the motorcade turned on to Elm Street, Abraham Zapruder, a local businessman, waited with his Bell and Howell 8mm camera. He had found a great place to stand. His secretary, standing behind him, would provide support since Zapruder sometimes suffered from vertigo. He waited for the President's car to reach his line of sight.

On the sixth floor of the School Book Depository building, the alleged assassin, Lee Oswald, also waited. A new employee of the depository warehouse, Oswald would soon have an excellent view of the President's car. 

As soon as he could see the President's limo, which was traveling at about 11.2 miles per hour, Zapruder aimed his camera at the car and recorded the President's visit. Oswald, meanwhile, allegedly aimed his rifle at the same moving target.
At about 12:30 p.m., Oswald took his first shot.

Recording events at about 18.5 frames per second, Zapruder's film is the best evidence of the assassination of President Kennedy. The 26-second film, now owned by the American people through the U.S. National Archives (at a cost of $16 million paid to Zapruder's heirs), begins routinely and ends horrifically. Panning from left to right, Zapruder followed the motorcade as it moved through Dealey Plaza. A highway sign momentarily blocked Zapruder's view of the President's limo. Staying focused, however, the amateur continued filming.

Investigators interviewed 216 Dealey Plaza witnesses. Hundreds more testified in the Warren Commission hearings. Within a year, the Commission found that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, had assassinated President Kennedy. Those official conclusions, however, were never universally accepted. Too many unanswered questions remained. Too many "findings" did not match the facts.

For example: What about evidence from eyewitnesses who heard shots coming from the grassy knoll area? If true, an assassin would have been in front of the President's car as well as behind it.

What about the Zapruder film which shows the effects of the fatal bullet? If the President were only shot from behind, how does one explain the movement of his head at the moment of impact? Answers, from those supporting the "lone assassin" theory, differed greatly from those with an opposite point of view. Still others believe there was a cover up of the evidence.

Scholarship continues in an effort to get to the truth. The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded there was likely a conspiracy to kill the President. They also found "a high probability" that a second gunman fired at him, although the committee believed that Oswald fired the fatal shot.

III. Talk to a partner:

1. According to the reading, how important was this trip to Dallas?

2. Describe what Zapruder did on that day.

3. What questions remain unanswered. What are they? How would you answer them?

IV. Watch the movie segment.


1. How similar is the shooting scene to the description in the reading?

2. Was the scene exactly the way you had imagined when you read the text? Explain it.

3. Was there anything you didn't know about the assassination that you ended up learning by watching the movie scene?

V. Watch the segment from the movie Killing Kennedy and answer the questions:

Killing Kennedy:

1. How do you compare both scenes?

2. What is shown in this segment that was not included in Parkland's?

3. Do you believe this version is true? Doesn't it seem too easy, therefore unlikely? What's your opinion about this version?

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