John Fitzgerald Kennedy, known as JFK and nicknamed Jack, was a well-known and popular politician long before he became the thirty-fifth president of the United States in 1961. The son of a prominent family, Kennedy served in the Navy during World War II and represented Massachusetts in both houses of Congress during the 1950s. Less well-known is his assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. As a young man, Oswald joined the Marines, moved to the Soviet Union, and eventually settled in Dallas with his wife and children. He struggled to fit in wherever he went and simply wanted to be acknowledged and appreciated.


Who were these two men and how did their lives intersect? What exactly led up to the fateful events of November 22, 1963? Follow us as we track the story of these two men, tracing their movements and their individual stories as they lead up to the day that brought them together. Explore their personal lives in a step-by-step account of key moments that shaped the men they became using this GeoStory inspired by Killing Kennedy, from the National Geographic Channel.


Note about content: A video of the fatal shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald is included on point 17 of the GeoStory.


to murder someone of political importance.

Cold War

(1947-1991) conflict between the Soviet Union (and its allies) and the United States (and its allies). The two sides never confronted each other directly.


type of economy where all property, including land, factories and companies, is held by the government.


legislative branch of the government, responsible for making laws. The U.S. Congress has two bodies, the House of Representatives and the Senate.

House of Representatives

federal branch of Congress in the United States, with state representatives elected every two years.

John F. Kennedy

(1917-1963) 35th president of the United States.

Plural Noun

(U.S. Marine Corps) branch of the U.S. military often responsible for first expeditions to danger zones.

political campaign

method or organization working to elect a person to a political office.

popular vote

vote totals for a candidate or issue, made by all qualified voters.

Soviet Union

(1922-1991) large northern Eurasian nation that had a communist government. Also called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the USSR.

U.S. Navy

military branch whose mission is "to maintain, train, and equip combat ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression, and maintaining freedom of the seas."

World War II

(1939-1945) armed conflict between the Allies (represented by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union) and the Axis (represented by Germany, Italy, and Japan.)