It’s been 56 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. To mark the anniversary, PEOPLE takes a look back at his life, his presidency, and the extended family of one of the most cherished presidents in United States history.
John F. Kennedy Birth
President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, about five miles southwest of Boston, on May 29, 1917 to businessman Joseph P. Kennedy and his wife, Rose Kennedy. JFK was one of nine children — the second oldest of the siblings with one older brother, Joseph Jr.
Remembering John F. Kennedy
Kennedy was the youngest U.S. president to ever be elected, having being sworn into office at the age of 43. JFK’s presidency is remembered for how he boldly (and with great risk) handled the Cuban Missile Crisis and the early stages of the Cold War. His domestic policy focused on fighting racial discrimination and uniting the country behind a common goal of hope. While many U.S. presidents have identified as Christians, Kennedy remains America’s only Catholic president.
The Kennedy Family
The Kennedy family is one of the most prominent political dynasties in the history of the U.S. After John F. Kennedy married Jacqueline Kennedy in 1953, they had three children, Caroline, John Jr., and Patrick (who died just two days after his birth). “They were great together,” Mrs. Kennedy’s former assistant Providencia F. Paredes told PEOPLE in 2013. “He always wanted to be sure she was happy.” JFK’s siblings, Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Senator Ted Kennedy, and their children, have also been part of American political life.
John F. Kennedy Death
JFK was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963 while traveling in his motorcade in downtown Dallas, Texas. Kennedy’s assassination is tragically captured in the film footage of Abraham Zapruder which was later published in LIFE Magazine. After President Kennedy was shot, he was rushed to Parkland Hospital where he died about 30 minutes later. Clint Hill, the special agent assigned to the first lady, shared in his book Mrs. Kennedy and Me the moment he had to tell the president’s brother Robert that JFK had been shot: “It’s as bad as it can get,” he said. The White House announced the president’s death a half hour later. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in just over two hours after JFK’s death on Air Force One, as they brought the body back to Washington D.C. Mrs. Kennedy was at Johnson’s side when he was sworn in, still wearing a suit soaked with her husband’s blood.
How Old Was JFK When He Died?
President Kennedy was 46 years old when he died.
Where Did John F. Kennedy Die?
President Kennedy was pronounced dead at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas.
When Did John F. Kennedy Die?
President Kennedy died on Nov. 22, 1963. He was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald.
Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?
Lee Harvey Oswald was a former U.S. Marine who assassinated President Kennedy, shooting him twice from a sixth floor window at the Texas School Book Depository in downtown Dallas. Oswald, 24, was arrested about 45 minutes later in a nearby movie theater after he also shot and killed local police officer J.D. Tippit. Oswald was killed two days later by local Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby while being walked through the basement of the Dallas Police Headquarters.
Who Was Jack Ruby?
Jack Ruby was a local Dallas nightclub owner who shot and killed Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. Ruby, who died in prison in 1967 from lung cancer, shot Oswald in the abdomen on live television, one of the most dramatic moments in the history of American media. Ruby claimed he killed Oswald in order to “save” Mrs. Kennedy from having to go through a trial. But Oswald’s murder and Ruby’s motives further fueled conspiracy theories surrounding JFK’s death because of Ruby’s connection with organized crime.
The Kennedy Family
President Kennedy’s extended family: his children, his eight siblings and their children, has become one of the most storied political families in American history. Both for the promise they came to represent, as well as the tragic circumstances surrounding the untimely deaths of several family members.
John F. Kennedy Jr. Plane Crash
John F. Kennedy Jr., who was almost 3 years old when his father was assassinated, died on July 16, 1999 after a plane he was piloting crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Massachusetts. His wife Carolyn Bessette and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette also died in the crash. Caroline Kennedy, the oldest Kennedy child, is the only surviving member of President Kennedy’s immediate family.
John F. Kennedy’s Legacy
While President Kennedy’s life was cut short on Nov. 22, 1963, the president is often remembered for his youthful energy, his message of hope and his history-making speeches, including his 1960 inaugural address: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”