Today in History: John F. Kennedy is Born (1917)

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John Fitzgerald Kennedy is one of the most beloved presidents in American History. He is often idolized for his inspiring speeches and lofty goals. Perhaps his most famous quote “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country,” is perhaps the most used presidential quote of all time. For sure it is right up there with Lincoln’s “Four Score…” quote during the Gettysburg Address.

John F. Kennedy was born on May 29, 1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts. In 1947, he was elected to the US House of Representatives, where he was a member of the Democratic caucus. In 1953, he was elected as one of the senators from Massachusetts, where he served until he was elected President of the United States in 1960.

Kennedy took office during a very rough stretch for the United States. Tensions between the United States and the USSR were at their high point, and both countries were striving to one up each other without resorting to direct conflict. The tensions in Asia between factions in Vietnam were just some of the problems that cropped during his presidency.

John F. Kennedy. Wikipedia

There are three major events that happened during JFK’s time in office that are important to note. First is the Cuban Missile Crisis, an event so fraught with tension, that is often considered the closest the United States and the USSR ever came to full-on war. It came so close that Kennedy was quoted as saying “It is insane that two men, sitting on opposite sides of the world, should be able to decide to bring an end to civilization.”

The second event was the Bay of Pigs fiasco, where the US attempted to use Cuban refugees to invade Cuba. It was a complete failure, and one of the biggest embarrassments of the Kennedy administration.

Perhaps the most inspiring event of Kennedy’s presidency was his speech to congress on May 25, 1961, where he challenged America to land a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. The United States was successful in this when on July 20, 1969, NASA successfully landed the Apollo 11 on the moon.

President John F. Kennedy just moments before he was assassinated. Biography.com

John F. Kennedy’s life would come to a tragic end on November 22, 1963, when he became the fourth US president to be assassinated while in office. While participating in a parade motorcade in Dallas, Texas, Kennedy was shot with a high-powered rifle by Lee Harvey Oswald.

Kennedy’s legacy is very important in the United States. His inspiring quotes and the glamorous life of his family, are something that most Americans remember fondly. Some of the mystique surrounding his legend comes from the tragedies that seem to frequently occur around his family.

His first daughter was stillborn and one of his sons (Patrick) was delivered prematurely, and died two days after birth. His other son John F. Kennedy Jr. survived birth only to die in 1999 in a plane crash over Martha’s Vineyard. JFK’s brother Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968.

Because of his time in office and the tragic history of his family, John F. Kennedy is likely to remain on of America’s most well-known and well-loved presidents.

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  • Chrystal Powers

    It would have been nice to have seen his heroism in the Pacific mentioned as commander of PT 109, or his call before the United Nations for all nations to completely disarm and abolish all armies. That would have been nice.

    The part about Lee Harvey Oswald denying all charges and never having been given a fair and speedy trial by a jury of his peers before he was himself assassinated by a business partner of Richard Nixon’s (Jack Ruby) is that Howard Hunt (another business partner of Richard Nixon’s) has confessed to having shot JFK.

  • David Hoover

    Funny how everyone forgets that he nearly CAUSED A NUCLEAR WAR, and that the Kennedys’ money came from GANGSTERS, whom he decided to screw over after they got him elected. The Mob killed Kennedy.

    The Kennedys got what they deserved.