JFK: His Life and Legacy


On November 22, 1963, while being driven through the streets of Dallas, Texas,
in his open car, President John F. Kennedy was shot dead, apparently by the
lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald. The world had not only lost a common man, but a
great leader of men.

From his heroic actions in World War II to his presidency, making the decisions
to avert possible nuclear conflict with world superpowers, greatness can be
seen. Kennedy also found the time to author several best-selling novels from
his experiences . His symbolic figure represented all the charm, vigor and
optimism of youth as he led a nation into a new era of prosperity.

From his birth into the powerful and influential Kennedy clan, much was to be
expected of him. Kennedy was born on May 29,1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts.
His father, Joe, Sr., was a successful businessman with many political
connections. Appointed by President Roosevelt, Joe, Sr., was given the chair of
the Securities and Exchange Commission and later the prestigious position of
United States ambassador to Great Britain(Anderson 98). His mother, Rose, was a
loving housewife and took young John on frequent trips around historic Boston
learning about American revolutionary history. Both parents impressed on their
children that their country had been good to the Kennedys. Whatever benefits
the family received from the country they were told, must be returned by
performing some service for the country(Anderson 12). The Kennedy clan included
Joe, Jr., Bobby, Ted and their sisters, Eunice, Jean, Patricia, Rosemary, and
Kathleen. Joe, Jr., was a significant figure in young John\'s life as he was the
figure for most of John\'s admiration. His older brother was much bigger and
stronger than John and took it upon himself to be John\'s coach and protector.
John\'s childhood was full of sports, fun and activity. This all ended when John
grew old enough to leave for school.

At the age of thirteen, John left home to attend an away school for the first
time. Canterbury School, a boarding school in New Milford, Connecticut and
Choate Preparatory in Wallingford, Connecticut completed his elementary
education("JFK" 98). John graduated in 1934 and was promised a trip to London
as a graduation gift. Soon after, John became ill with jaundice and

would have to go to the hospital. He spent the rest of the summer trying to
recover. He was not entirely well when he started Princeton, several weeks
later in the fall of 1935. Around Christmas the jaundice returned and John had
to drop out of school. Before the next school year began, he told his father he
wanted to go to Harvard("JFK" 98). On campus, young people took interest in
politics, social changes, and events in Europe. The United States was pulling
out of the Great Depression. Hitler\'s

Nazi Germany followed aggressive territorial expansion in Europe. It was at
this time that John first became aware of the vast social and economic
differences in the United States. In June 1940, John graduated cum laude(with
praise or distinction) from Harvard. His thesis earned a magna cum laude(great
praise)( "JFK" 98). After graduation, John began to send his paper to
publishers, and it was accepted on his second try. Wilfrid Funk published it
under the title Why England Slept. It became a bestseller. John, at
twenty-five, became a literary sensation.

In the spring of 1941, both John and Joe, Jr., decided to enroll in the armed
services. Joe was accepted as a naval air cadet but John was turned down by
both the army and navy because of his back trouble and history of illness("JFK"
98). After months of training and conditioning, John reapplied and on September
19, John was accepted into the navy as a desk clerk in Washington. He was
disgusted and applied for a transfer. In June 1941, Kennedy was sent to Naval
Officers Training School at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois and
then for additional training at the Motor Torpedo Boat Center at Melville,
Rhode Island. In late April 1943, Lieutenant John F. Kennedy was put in command
of a PT 109, a fast, light, attack craft in the Solomon Islands in the South
Pacific. Kennedy saw action in the form of night patrols and participated in
enemy bombings. On August 1, 1943, during a routine night patrol, a Japanese
destroyer collided in the darkness with Kennedy\'s craft and the PT 109 was
sunk. Through superhuman effort, the injured Kennedy heroically swam back and
forth rescuing his wounded crew. Two were killed in the crash. The injury had
once again aggravated his back. Still, Kennedy pushed on swimming from