The president John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Written by on November 14, 2018

Over half a century has passed since John Fitzgerald Kennedy served as America’s thirty-fifth president. It’s difficult to pinpoint what’s most remembered about JFK today, but the answer probably has something to do with his policies or his assassination, which was carried out by Lee Harvey Oswald. When Oswald shot and killed Kennedy on 22 November 1963 in Dallas, Texas’s Dealey Plaza, the bedrock of America’s democracy was rocked. The entire country mourned for the loss of its president—the first chief executive to be assassinated since William McKinley. As a result, Kennedy’s assassination often comes to mind when his life and career are discussed.

But JFK’s final moments are a very, very small portion of his life. Born in Brookline, Massachusetts on 29 May 1917, Kennedy was one of eight children. He was sickly as a child and suffered serious health issues. Doctors were frequently unsure of how to treat the young Kennedy, who, it was ultimately revealed, suffered from Addison’s Disease. Kennedy gained strength as he grew, and despite having his last rights read multiple times as a child, he was well enough to fight in World War 2 by the time the United States declared war.

Kennedy was commended for his military service during WW2, and he used his popularity to help him earn a spot in the House of Representatives. After six years of serving in the House, Kennedy ran for and secured a Senate seat, where he remained until the Election of 1960, when he ran for and was elected president over future-chief executive Richard Nixon.

As president, Kennedy attempted to halt the expansion of the Soviet Union, which ultimately resulted in his increasing the American presence in Vietnam and botching the Bay of Pigs Invasion. The Cuban Missile Crisis, wherein Russian nuclear missiles were installed in Cuba, was successfully handled by the Kennedy Administration. Kennedy also established a strong relationship with Israel. Domestically, Kennedy took tentative steps towards improving Civil Rights for African Americans and established several government programs, including the Peace Corps and space initiatives.

When Kennedy was assassinated on 22 November 1963, Vice President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as the chief executive. He worked to implement many of Kennedy’s policies and programs.

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