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JFKs Last Day - Fort Worth, Texas
The Final Hours
The city was on high excitement level. The President and his lovely First Lady were stopping in Fort Worth as the third city they would visit in a 2-day 5-city tour. The state of Texas politics was heavily divided between Anglo and Latin American voters and President Kennedy knew he needed to gain popularity in this state. Since it had been only 3 months earlier that the Kennedy's had lost an infant son, Mrs. Kennedy had yet to make a public appearance, but for this important trip, she did.
After spending the night in the city, the President spoke briefly outside the Hotel Texas then attended a breakfast at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce before flying to Dallas for the now infamous parade through the city.
We all know what happened next, but do you know how his day in Fort Worth unfolded? Let's look at JFK's last day in Fort Worth, Texas.
Photo credit: JFK outside the Hotel Texas, 22 November 1963, by Cecil Stoughton. U.S. National Archives
1963 Fifty Years Ago...
Were You Alive When JFK was Assassinated?
Detailed Agenda of JFK's 12 Hours In Ft. Worth
- 4:15pm Nov. 21, 1963 - departs Kelly AFB, San Antonio
- 5:00pm Nov. 21 - arrives Houston International Airport
- 5:45pm Nov. 21 - Gives a speech at the Rice Hotel and works the night's agenda, including an unscheduled 17-minute stop at the LULUC meeting
- 10:15pm Nov. 21 - departs Houston for Ft. Worth Carswell AFB. Arrives late (11:20pm) to hundreds of people waiting to greet the First Couple much to their surprise given the late evening arrival. Despite their exhaustive day, they shake hands with the people before departing for the Hotel Texas for the evening's stay.
- 7:45am Nov 22 - The President steps outside the Hotel Texas to greet the thousands of people who gathered in the rain to catch a glimpse of the President. His now famous greeting to Ft. Worthians: "There are no faint hearts in Ft. Worth". This was President Kennedy's last outdoor speech. He spoke on the strengths of the western tradition of the city and the city's continuing military history.
- 8:00am Nov 22 - President Kennedy attends Ft. Worth Chamber of Commerce breakfast inside Hotel Texas with 2,000 guests in attendance. Mrs. Kennedy had chosen not to attend but Mr. Kennedy asked for her presence and she arrived more than 20 minutes late, just before he gave his last speech ever.
- 10:35am Nov 22 - Motorcade departs for Carswell AFB via downtown Ft. Worth Main Street
- 11:25am Nov 22 - flight departs for Dallas Love Field...
Fort Worth's Tribute to Kennedy - Dedicated on November 8, 2012
The people of Fort Worth erected a tribute to the slain President that was dedicated on November 8, 2012. The JFK Tribute plaza is located at the corner of 8th and Main across the street from the Fort Worth Hilton that was the Texas Hotel where the Kennedy's spent their last night together.
A Virtual Tour of the Fort Worth JFK Tribute - It Is A Fitting MemorialClick thumbnail to view full-size
Did You Know?
- That Ft. Worth philanthropists of the art world put together a 15-piece art display in the rooms Jack and Jackie were staying in? It was well known that Jackie loved art so several prominent art owners came together on a hand shake deal to display historical pieces of art for that one night the Kennedy's were in Ft. Worth. The artists displayed included Pablo Picasso, Russell, Pendergast, and Van Gogh. It was a phenomenal collection all for one night to make the President and his art savvy First Lady feel a Fort Worth welcome.
- That President Kennedy's plane was not yet named Air Force One? It was entitled SAM26000. Mrs. Kennedy worked with some designers to create images that spoke volumes about the plane that carried the President. Instead of the Air Force One name, it had emblazoned on it's entire fuselage section, "The United States of America". This plane is now in the National Museum of the US Air Force.
- That the Texas Boys Choir sang at the Chamber of Commerce breakfast for the President and Mrs. Kennedy? Fifty years later, the Texas Boys Choir once again sang for the dedication of the JFK Tribute in Ft. Worth.
- That Bob Schieffer, world-reknowned news man, was working the beat for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that day and covered the assassination, scooping the Dallas newspapers? In the hours after the shooting, he answered the phone in the newsroom, taking a call from a person asking for a ride to Dallas. He asked her with much question in his voice if she was aware what had happened that day. Indeed she did; she was the mother of Lee Harvey Oswald and stated that she thought her son had been the shooter. Schieffer quickly grabbed his things, got in his car, picked her up and drove her to Dallas.
Fort Worth's Bill Paxton's Account of Seeing JFK in Ft. Worth
President Kennedy's Last Speech - Ft. Worth, Texas
There are no faint hearts in Ft. Worth.
This is the speech in Ft. Worth at the Chamber of Commerce breakfast, not Dallas.