On Oct. 26, the federal government will release the last of the secret records on the Kennedy Assassination. Whatever revelations emerge from the estimated 3,600 files, one signature fact will remain: Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman in Dealey Plaza. Still, new perspectives on the tragedy continue to surface, even after 50 years.
One of the most intriguing discoveries appears at frame 312 of the Zapruder film, one-eighteenth of a second before the final gunshot shatters President John F. Kennedy’s head.
At frame 312, the President and Texas Governor John Connally have both been wounded: Kennedy in the neck and Connally in the chest. Then there is a curious dichotomy. Connally swivels to his left and collapses into his wife’s lap, while Kennedy remains upright. Why?
As we now know, Kennedy was wearing a back brace in Dallas. JFK’s back problems were epic—osteoporosis, degenerative disc disease, and compression fractures. He also underwent spinal surgeries. One operation brought him so close to the brink that he was ministered last rites—one of three times he faced that ritual, including the final time at Parkland Hospital.
On Nov. 22, 1963, Kennedy wore not only the back brace, but also a six-inch-wide elastic bandage around his upper legs and lower torso in a figure-eight fashion to lend extra support.