Lady Bird Johnson on JFK Assassination
When it set out to investigate John F. Kennedy's 1963 assassination, the Warren Commission collected accounts from as many witnesses as possibleincluding Lady Bird Johnson, wife of the man who would take Kennedy's place. But rather than bring the new first lady in to testify, the commission accepted a transcript of her audio diary, excerpted below.
She and Lyndon, then vice president, sat two cars down in the presidential motorcade when Kennedy was shot. "There had been such a gala air that I thought it must be firecrackers or some sort of celebration," she recalled. But as a Secret Service agent jumped over the front seat to push her husband to the floor and the car lurched toward a building marked "Hospital," reality set in.
Two or three days after the assassination in Dallas, Lady Bird decided to record her experience into a tape player, speaking slowly and deliberately. About a year later, the Warren Commission issued its final conclusions: that the assassination had been the work of a lone killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, not part of a larger conspiracy. Mrs. Johnson was listed as one of many dozen witnesses.
Transcript from Mrs. Johnson's tapes relating to November 22, 1963:
It all began so beautifully. After a drizzle in the morning, the sun came out bright and beautiful. We were going into Dallas. In the lead car, President and Mrs. Kennedy, John and Nellie, and then a Secret Service car full of men, and then our car Lyndon and me and Senator Yarborough. The streets were lined with people lots and lots of people the children all smiling, placards, confetti, people waving from windows. One last happy moment I had was looking up and seeing Mary Griffith leaning out of a window waving at me. Then almost at the edge of town, on our way to the Trade Mart where we were going to have the luncheon, we were rounding a curve, going down a hill and suddenly there was a sharp loud report a shot. It seemed to me to come from the right above my shoulder from a building. Then a moment and then two more shots in rapid succession. There had been such a gala air that I thought it must be firecrackers or some sort of celebration. Then, in the lead car, the Secret Service men were suddenly down. I heard over the radio system, " Let's get out of here," and our Secret Service man who was with us, Ruf Youngblood, I believe it was, vaulted over the front seat on top of Lyndon, threw him to the floor and said, "Get down." Senator Yarborough and I ducked our heads. The car accelerated terrifically fast faster and faster. Then suddenly they put on the brakes so hard that I wondered if they were going to make it as we wheeled left and went around the corner. We pulled up to a building. I looked up and saw it said "Hospital." Only then did I believe that this might be what it was. Yarborough kept on saying in an excited voice, "Have they shot the President?" and I said something like, "No, it can't be." As we ground to a halt we were still the third car Secret Service men began to pull, lead, guide and hustle us out. I cast one last look over my shoulder and saw in the President's car a bundle of pink, just like a drift of blossoms, lying on the back seat. I think it was Mrs. ....