Luci Baines Johnson Recalls Grief Over Kennedy Assassination

Luci Baines Johnson, the daughter of John F. Kennedy’s vice president, Lyndon Johnson, was in Spanish class when she heard Kennedy had been shot.

“A young girl came running in saying, ‘‘the president’s been shot,’’ Johnson recalled today on CBS’s ‘‘Face the Nation’’ program. ‘‘And our teacher said, ‘girls, girls, we know nothing about the truth of these rumors, and until we do there will be Spanish.’’’

The week of the 50th anniversary of the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination will include a visit to Kennedy’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery by President Barack Obama. For several months, television specials, magazine articles and several books have focused on the Kennedy presidency and presented details of the moments before and after his death.

Johnson recalled on the CBS program that the Secret Service sent an agent she knew from her father’s detail to Washington’s National Cathedral School to tell her that her parents were safe.

‘‘I turned and ran in the other direction, as if I could run away from the inevitable,” Johnson said. “And of course, I wasn’t capable of out-running a Secret Service agent.”

She recalled Kennedy’s funeral, which she attended, as heart-wrenching.

“We looked at the Kennedy family so close, so young, so vital, so noble,” Johnson said. “And we were just consumed in pain.”

Kennedy Legacy

Relatives of Kennedy who were interviewed on the Sunday talk shows said the anniversary should be a time to focus on his political legacy rather than on the assassination.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” said she didn’t know whether Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination or was part of a conspiracy.

“I’m not going to solve that problem, and so what I’m going to do is focus on things I can do to make a difference,” said Townsend, daughter of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968 while seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

President Kennedy was shot in the head from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. The Warren Commission, the U.S. panel set up to investigate the assassination, concluded that Oswald acted alone and fired the shots at Kennedy and at then-Texas Gov. John Connally, who was wounded.

Two days later, Oswald was shot and killed by Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub operator.

Patrick Kennedy, Townsend’s cousin and a former U.S. Representative from Rhode Island, sought inspiration in his uncle’s legacy for resolving current U.S. political challenges, including the flawed rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

“We have to fix this but the good news is if we work together, which is what President Kennedy was about, I think we can attain and achieve anything and that was his inspiration to all Americans,” said Kennedy, a Democrat and son of Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts who died in office in 2009.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Riley in Washington at michaelriley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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