John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States of America, was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Texas. He is remembered for his youth and for the quotable speeches that he delivered during his political career.
1. Attractive and Appealing
John F. Kennedy was the first president who was born in the 20th century. His youth made him both attractive and appealing for the office of President.
2. In The Navy
Kennedy served in the Navy during World War II. By the end of the war he would advance to the rank of lieutenant. During a Japanese attack, he and his crew were thrown into the water and survived miraculously after swimming to safety. For this, he was awarded the Purple Heart as well as the Navy and Marine Corps Medal and was hailed for his heroism.
Before running for a seat in the House of Representatives, John F. Kennedy was a journalist. Although there is some debate as to its authorship, Kennedy won a Pulitzer Prize for writing Profiles in Courage.
4. Independent Thinker
Though he was re-elected twice, Kennedy was not a popular man among his peers. He was seen as an independent thinker who did not always follow the lead of his political party. There were several times when his critics expressed their disappointment when Kennedy failed to speak up or defend another member of his party.
In 1960, Kennedy was nominated to run as his party’s candidate for President. A memorable part of the election took place during several televised debates where Kennedy came off as young and vital while Nixon came off as cold and disinterested. Kennedy won, albeit by a small margin.
On November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy was shot and killed while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. His apparent assassin was Lee Harvey Oswald; however, Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby before he was able to stand trial. Speculation continues to this day as to whether or not there was more than one shooter involved in the assassination.
7. Reputation and Assassination
John F. Kennedy is remembered more for his reputation and assassination than his actions as Commander in Chief. He was a brilliant speaker and a moral leader in the fight for civil rights.
8. American Royalty
Kennedy, and his fashionable First Lady, Jacqueline, were hailed as American royalty. They personified the appeal of American possibility. Kennedy’s time in office is often referred to as “Camelot.”
9. Successes In Congress
Kennedy was successful in getting Congress to pass an increased minimum wage, better Social Security benefits and an urban renewal package. He also created the Peace Corps. One of Kennedy’s goals was to put an American astronaut on the moon by the end of the 60’s. Kennedy also put into motion legislation that would aid in the civil rights movement, although much of this legislation was not passed until after his death.
10. Foreign Policy Disasters
Kennedy’s foreign policy did not begin well. The Bay of Pigs disaster in 1961 seriously hurt Kennedy’s international reputation. As Khrushchev began building nuclear missile bases in Cuba, Kennedy ordered a “quarantine” of Cuba in response and warned that any attack from Cuba would be seen as an act of war by the USSR. This standoff led to the dismantling of the missile silos in exchange for promises that the US would not invade Cuba. Kennedy also agreed to a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963 with Britain and the USSR.