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


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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

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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