Nat Geo new documentaries JFK: A Day in America marks the 60th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy by bringing together some of the last surviving witnesses to reflect on the tumultuous days that followed the President’s assassination on November 22, 1963.
Divided into three parts — which premiered live Sunday night and is now available to stream on Disney+ and Hulu — the documentary begins with President Kennedy’s arrival in Texas with Jackie to campaign for re-election and takes readers through the days that followed, in which JFK and his assassin were fatally shot.
Here are the creepiest details mentioned JFK: A Day in America about the last, joyful hours of Jack and Jackie before the tragedy.
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President and Mrs. Kennedy are greeted by many good people at Dallas Love Airport on November 22, 1963.
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President Kennedy won Texas by just 2% in the 1960 election, and with his reelection looming, a powerful state would be a key element in securing another term in office. Therefore, in November 1963, directors and White House officials set out to make an impression.
“They wanted to get out in front early,” former Secret Service agent Clint Hill, in charge of the first lady, says in the documentary. Jackie Kennedy, who generally avoided campaign trips, agreed to come and help win over voters. “She wanted to do everything she could to help President Kennedy get elected in 1964,” Hill says.
Sid Davis, then the White House correspondent for the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company, recalls the press corps feeling “apprehensive” about the reception Kennedy would receive when he landed, saying, “We knew Texas was not Kennedy’s country.”
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JFK and Jackie arrived in Texas on the afternoon of Thursday, November 21, splitting the day between San Antonio and Houston before spending the night in Fort Worth. “We were all in good spirits and felt there was no sign of hostility, anything like that,” former Secret Service agent Paul Landis says of being greeted by large crowds throughout the day, including in Fort Worth.
But there was particular trepidation about the Dallas leg of the trip, scheduled for the second day, Landis recalls. “On the day we left, we had a briefing and everyone got their assignments and what they were going to do. And this was the first time I learned that Dallas has the nickname ‘City of Hate,’” he says. “I didn’t know anything about it being a bad political environment.”
Ahead of the Nov. 22 visit, the Dallas police chief warned citizens to be courteous and respectful of the president during his visit; The Dallas mayor told reporters that while he expects protesters to be on both ends of the political spectrum, “we don’t expect problems.”
Although the Kennedys were greeted by many fans upon their arrival in Dallas, Lee Harvey Oswald would soon prove the Secret Service’s worst fears correct.
“We knew there was a group in Dallas that didn’t like or disagree with President Kennedy’s position on a lot of things,” Hill adds. “How far they were willing to go for that, I didn’t know. We didn’t know.”
The Texas campaign served as Jackie’s grand return to public life after grieving the loss of her son
In August 1963, Jackie gave birth to Patrick Bouvier Kennedy — the first child born to a sitting president and first lady since the 19th century. But two days later, Patrick died of infantile respiratory distress syndrome, forcing Jackie to withdraw from the public eye as she grieved.
When Jackie decided to step back into the spotlight in bold fashion—following her husband on the campaign trail in Texas three months later—the world was eager to see her (and seemingly moved by the first couple’s greater affection for others in the wake of the tragedy).
“She got over it [Patrick’s death]”, Davis recalls in the documentary. “This was her first visit outside the White House, in public, so people were glad to see her out and smiling.”
He continues, “President Kennedy really wanted everyone in Texas to see Jackie. Texas was such an important state; he felt it would be better with Jackie.”
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When the president attended a breakfast in Fort Worth on the morning of the assassination, those gathered seemed disappointed to discover Jackie was not by his side, witnesses recalled. The disappointment became so severe that the President’s team required Agent Hill to bring Jackie from her hotel room to the event.
“When she walked into the room, the crowd just got up off their chairs and started cheering,” Davis says, confirming the idea that Jackie was JFK’s superpower. “I’ve never seen her happier than she was that morning.”
Sid Davis, former White House correspondent
There was something magical about this trip, and I think it was Jackie
— Sid Davis, former White House correspondent
Upon the couple’s arrival at Dallas Love Field Airport an hour before the president was assassinated, Jackie took a rare moment to walk up to the sea of excited fans and greet them in person. “Mrs. Kennedy wouldn’t normally do that, but she was right behind [President Kennedy],” Hill says. She’s back in the swing of things — and she’s enjoying it.
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The Kennedys, accompanied by Texas Governor John Connally and his wife, ride through Dallas. Bettmann Archive / Getty Images Anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy: What happened on November 22, 1963.
JFK insisted on driving through Dallas in a convertible to remove obstacles between himself and the voters
When White House officials were planning a motorcade in Dallas, President Kennedy told his team that he wanted the top of his vehicle removed as they drove through the city.
“The president insisted on an open car because he wanted to feel as close to the people as possible,” says Hill in JFK: A Day in America. “He wanted people to feel that there was never any barrier between them and him.”
There was a little rain in Dallas that morning, but it stopped before the Kennedys’ celebratory parade through the city began.
“By the time we were ready to go,” Hill says, “the word was, ‘The top is going to be taken off.’” As crowds flooded the streets and climbed buildings around the city to catch a glimpse of the first couple, it seemed like a smart decision to remove the physical and a metaphorical barrier separating JFK from potential voters — but of course, it created logistical challenges for the security team.
Photograph of Lee Harvey Oswald, taken the day after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Lee Harvey Oswald told his co-worker he was wearing ‘curtains’ when he came to work with the box before the assassination
Buell Frazier, an associate of JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, tells Nat Geo that he didn’t think twice about Oswald’s behavior on the morning of November 22, 1963.
“That Friday felt like any other Friday morning,” Frazier recalls. “I drove Lee Harvey Oswald to work because Lee didn’t have a car. We listened to the radio.” Frazier goes on to explain that Oswald was generally a quiet person who would not usually start a conversation. – He would talk mostly about his child.
On his way to work, Frazier noticed a package in the backseat, but didn’t look closely at it. “I said, ‘What’s in the package Lee?’” Frazier remembers. “And he says: ‘Garnishes’.”
Frazier notes that when they parked, Oswald got out, grabbed the package, and left on his own. “We’ve always walked together, but not this morning,” Frazier says. “It never dawned on me that anything was different.”
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Jackie Kennedy rises from the back seat after President John F. Kennedy is fatally shot next to her. ZAPRUDER FILM 1967 (restored 1995) The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
Jackie would not let go of JFK’s body when the motorcade arrived at the ER
When President Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally were shot, chaos erupted and the procession sped toward Parkland Memorial Hospital. “Mrs. Kennedy was screaming, ‘They took his head off. I love you, Jack,’” says Hill. “[She] was in shock, with the president’s head in her lap.”
Hill continues, explaining that when they got to the hospital, Jackie was in shock and wouldn’t let go of his body.
“I begged her, I said, ‘Please, Mrs. Kennedy, let us help the president.’ I didn’t get any response,” Hill recalls. “I realized she wasn’t going to let go, so I took my coat off and covered the back of his head, shoulders and upper back, and when I did, she let go.”
Clint Hill, former Secret Service agent
It is my belief that the United States lost its innocence on November 22, 1963.
— Clint Hill, former Secret Service agent
Landis, a relatively young Secret Service agent at the time, remembers passing out in the trauma room as doctors rushed to the president’s aid.
“I heard the doctor saying, ‘Let me through, let me through,’ and they’re asking everyone to evacuate the room,” Landis says. “And it was about that time that somebody came out and asked if anybody knew the president’s blood type, and Mrs. Kennedy sort of stood up and said, ‘You think he’s alive?’ And there was only complete silence.”
From the moment JFK fell into Jackie’s lap in the limo, Hill says, “I’m sure she knew the president couldn’t have survived and was actually dead.”
All three parts of Nat Geo JFK: A Day in America documentaries are now available to stream on Disney+ and Hulu.
Links: JFK and Jackie’s Final Hours Before Assassination: 5 Harrowing Details in Emotional New Docuseries – Tekmonk Bio, JFK and Jackie’s Final Hours Before Assassination: 5 Harrowing Details in Emotional New Docuseries – Kungfutv, JFK and Jackie’s Final Hours Before Assassination: 5 Harrowing Details in Emotional New Docuseries – Hot News