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JFK assassination 50 years on

The US is marking 50 years since President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, Texas.

Dallas, which has long struggled with the legacy of the murder, hosts a series of official events on Friday.

John F. Kennedy is often ranked among the nation’s most revered presidents, though he served less than three years.

He is commemorated for his youthful vigor, his leadership through the Cuban missile crisis, and his challenge to America to put a man on the Moon.

But he is also remembered for ordering one of the most disastrous episodes of the Cold War, the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of communist Cuba by a CIA-trained paramilitary force of Cuban exiles.

JFK’s family members laid a wreath on his grave at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington DC on Friday. His wife Jackie Kennedy and two of their children are also buried there.

Nearby, President Barack Obama ordered the White House flag be flown at half mast.

Among official events in Dallas on Friday, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra will perform, Mayor Michael Rawlings will give an address, and bells will toll at the minute of Kennedy’s death.

Those events and others conclude a week of tributes to the slain US leader.

John F. Kennedy is often ranked among the nation's most revered presidents, though he served less than three years

John F. Kennedy is often ranked among the nation’s most revered presidents, though he served less than three years

Kennedy, a Democrat, was part of one of the most prominent US political dynasties of the 20th Century.

His father, Joseph, was a wealthy businessman who served in senior positions in the government of President Franklin Roosevelt, including as ambassador to Britain.

Two of his brothers later served as US senators and ran for president. One of them, Robert, was himself assassinated in 1968. Edward Kennedy, who died in 2009, was a champion of progressive causes including universal healthcare.

JFK’s daughter Caroline is now the US ambassador to Japan.

On November 22, 1963, JFK and his wife Jackie travelled to Dallas for early campaigning ahead of the following year’s election.

Crowds of supporters lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the couple. As the presidential motorcade entered Dealey Plaza at around 12:30 local time, JFK’s convertible passed the Texas School Book Depository.

Gunshots rang out across the plaza. Bullets struck the president in the head and neck. Half an hour later, JFK was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Soon after, Vice-President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president aboard Air Force One.

Lee Harvey Oswald, an employee at the depository, was arrested in connection with the shooting.

On November 24, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald was scheduled to be transferred from police headquarters to a county jail when he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby, a local nightclub owner.

Although JFK’s murder has provided endless fodder for conspiracy theorists, official inquiries have determined Lee Harvey Oswald alone was responsible for the assassination.

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