John Fitzgerald Kennedy, often referred to as JFK, was the 35th President of the United States and is perhaps most vividly remembered for his tragic and very public death on November 22, 1963.
John F. Kennedy was born on May 29, 1917, in Brookline Massachusetts. He was the second of nine children and grew up in an environment of fierce competitiveness, staunch Roman Catholicism and the politics of the Democratic Party. His parents, Joseph Patrick Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald, were successful and clever business people who established trust funds for all their children ensuring their financial freedom throughout their lives. The Kennedy family has become well-known as one of the most powerful dynasties in modern America.
Kennedy joined the U.S. Navy in 1941 and was sent to the South Pacific in 1943. Kennedy’s older brother was killed in the War, and when Kennedy was discharged in 1945, the family’s expectations of a Kennedy in office fell to him. JFK lived up to these expectations and beyond; he never lost an election in his political career.
Kennedy first ran for Congress in 1946 and was elected to the House of Representatives, where he served for three terms, from 1947 to 1953. In 1952, John ran for the U.S. Senate with the help of his family, especially his brother Robert Kennedy. Kennedy also enhanced his electoral appeal by marrying Jacqueline Lee Bouvier.
In 1960, Kennedy announced his intention to run for the Presidential Office and was elected in 1961 after defeating Richard Nixon in a close election.
One of the major events of President Kennedy’s career was the Bay of Pigs Invasion, which was an attempt to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro. This later led to the Cuban Missile Crisis as the Soviet Union placed a nuclear missile installation in Cuba under the pretence of protecting Cuba from further attacks such as the Bay of Pigs Invasion.
The Space Race was at its peak during the term of Kennedy’s presidency. Yuri Gagarin from the Soviet Union was the first man in space. The Soviets also held many of the early milestones of the Space Race. It wasn’t until 1969, six years after Kennedy’s death, that the first moon landing took place by American Neil Armstrong.
On November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was travelling in a motorcade, in an open topped limousine, through the streets of Dallas when he received a fatal gunshot wound to the head. The assassination was captured on television and has become one of the enduring images of the twentieth century.
Twenty four year-old Dallas resident, Lee Harvey Oswald was accused of the killing, but two days later Oswald himself was brutally shot by Jack Ruby, a nightclub owner with connections to the criminal underground. A great deal of controversy and conspiracy surrounded the Kennedy assassination and there are many questions which remain unanswered.
“Kennedy, John F..” Encyclopedia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 25 Mar. 2007