Dan Alcorn illuminates an underappreciated aspect of November 22, 1963. President Kennedy and his government had been preparing for a succession emergency for some time.
When President Kennedy was shot in Dallas, our nuclear weapons system would have needed urgently to know who was in command, and when word of the President’s death came, the system would immediately switch command to the Vice President, now the successor commander-in-chief. The swearing-in ceremony is a mere formality– power would have passed when word of the President’s death was first received. Standby authority for military officers to use nuclear weapons existed if the President or designated successor