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Essay/Term paper: Another john f kennedy

Essay, term paper, research paper:  American History

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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 So 2 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 So 3 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 So

4 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 island to

island in the South Pacific hoping for a patrol to come by.

The lieutenant had no idea he had been in the water for eight

hours. Finally, an island was spotted that could provided

cover from Japanese planes. With no edible plants or water,

Kennedy realized that he and the crew must move on. The

next day, he once again attempted to search for rescue.

After treading water for hours, the lieutenant was forced to

admit no patrol boats were coming. He turned back for the

island but was swept away by a powerful current. Kennedy

collapsed on an island and slept. He recovered enough

energy to return to the island and gathered the crew to move

to another island in search of food. JFK was now desperate

enough to seek help from natives on a Japanese controlled

island. After making contact with the natives, Kennedy

persuaded the natives to deliver a message written on the

back of a coconut shell to allied forces. The coconut fell into

the hands of allied scouts and a patrol was sent. The coconut

would appear again on the desk of an American

President(Anderson 35). The crew of the PT 109 were

given a hero's welcome when they returned to base, but

Kennedy would have none of it. He refused home leave and

was given another boat. In constant pain from the back

injury, JFK soon contracted malaria, became very ill, and

lost twenty-five pounds. He was forced to give up command

and was sent So 5 home to Chelsea Naval Hospital near

Hyannis Port. The lieutenant received the Purple Heart, the

Navy and Marine Corps Medal, and a citation from Admiral

W. F. Halsey. John's back failed to recover was an

operation was performed on his spine in the summer of

1944. During recovery, Kennedy received word that his

brother Joe, Jr. had been killed in action. Joe had been

eligible for home leave, but had volunteered for a special

bombing mission. The bombs had detonated early and Joe

and his copilot were caught in the explosion. Kennedy put

his feelings onto paper and a second book was published for

the family and close friends. He called it As We Remember

Joe. The family- particularly JFK's father- had assumed that

Joe, Jr. would carry on the family tradition and go into

politics. Both of his grandfathers had been active in

politics(Anderson 41). Now , suddenly, JFK was the oldest

Kennedy of his generation. Kennedy's first chance in politics

came when Congressman James Curley from the 11th

District of Massachusetts decided to retire in 1946(Gadney

42). JFK won his first Congressional seat by a margin of

more than two to one. At the age if twenty-nine, JFK was

placed on the front page of the New York Times and in

Time Magazine. He was often mistaken in Congress as a

Senate page or an elevator operator. It was during this time

period in which Kennedy met and fell in love with Jacqueline

Bouvier. "Jackie",as she was known, came from a wealthy

Catholic background as prestigious as the Kennedys. She

attended Vassar College and the Sorbonne in Paris, France.

She So 6 spoke French, Italian, and Spanish fluently. They

were wed on September 12,1953, at St. Mary's Catholic

Church in Newport, Rhode Island. All seemed well, yet after

three two-year terms as a Congressman, Kennedy became

frustrated with House rules and customs and decided to run

for Senate. In 1952, Kennedy ran for Senate against

Republican Senator Henry Cabot Lodge. Fifteen years older

than Kennedy, Lodge was the incumbent of two terms in the

Senate. JFK prevailed in the victory but was soon stricken

with Addison's disease during his first year in the Senate and

had to operate on a fifty-fifty chance for survival

procedure(Gadney 52). While recovering, Kennedy wrote

Profiles in Courage, a bestseller on examples of moral

courage in the lives of eight senators who risked their careers

for a great cause or a belief. Kennedy returned to Senate

and participated in the powerful Senate Foreign Relations

Committee. He was also chairman of the Senate

Subcommittee on Labor. JFK believed strongly in

education, equal job opportunity, and the civil rights

movement. His biggest success came in the form of his

Labor Reform Bill which passed by a margin of 90 to 1 in

Senate debate. Kennedy's first child, Caroline, was born

during this time. Due to his enormous success in Congress,

the Democratic party nominated him for the presidential

ticket in 1960. Lyndon Johnson was chosen as the running

mate with Kennedy to secure and build upon the democratic

bases in the southern states while the Kennedys sought out

the younger voters, the factory So 7 workers, and the

liberals(Gadney 61). During the Kennedy Administration, a

great deal of events were going on.Jackie had given birth to

JFK, Jr., while all over the south, the civil rights movement

was going in full force with incidents breaking out. Specific

attention gathered around a black air force veteran, James

Meredith, applied for admission to the University of

Mississippi. In Cuba both the Bay of Pigs occurred, in which

U.S. supported rebels revolted in a poorly laid out plan of

events that fell out beneath them, and the Cuban Missile

Crisis in which the Soviet Republic were building missile silos

in Cuba, 100 miles away from Florida. The Space Race was

in full force with both Russia and the U.S. in competition to

reach the moon. U.S. involvement in Vietnam was in the

latter stages with plans to withdraw after the 1964 election.

On a trip to Dallas to stir up support for the reelection, the

President's auto were coming down elm street when three

shots rang out. The first projectile entered at the base of

Kennedy's neck and exited through the back of his head.

The second bullet hit Texas Governor John Connally.

Seconds later there was another shot and the back of the

president's head was torn away. The assassin- Lee Harvey

Oswald with a mail-order rifle fired from the Texas School

Book Depository(Warren 5). Oswald had recently applied

for a passport to Communist Russia which led to a series of

private meetings between Oswald and the Russian

Government(Warren 614). Oswald protested his innocence.

President Johnson set up what quickly became known as the

So 8 Warren Commission headed by Chief Justice Warren

to find the motive behind the assassination, The Commission

finds the lone, depressed, mentally unstable, anti-social nut

kills an American president("Theories" 1). Other theories

have evolved over time such as the Grassy Knoll theory.

Witnesses say that a man in black was present and fired

simultaneously with Oswald and doubled the actual shots

fired("Theories" 1) Another theory is that the fired CIA

director Allen Dulles used his considerable connections and

plotted revenge("Theories 2"). On Nov. 24, 1963 as

Oswald was being escorted from the city jail, Jack Ruby

shot Oswald with a single shot from a Colt .38

revolver(Warren 350). Ruby was arrested and stood trial in

Dallas. He was found guilty and was sentenced to hang. He

died in jail of cancer, on January 3,1967. Kennedy was the

first President to be born in the twentieth century and was

very much a man of his time. He was restless, seeking, with

a thirst of knowledge, and he had a feeling of deep

commitment, not only to the people of the United States, but

to the peoples of the world. Many of the causes he fought

for exist today because of what he did for the rights of

minorities, the poor, the very old and the very young. He

never took anything for granted and worked for everything

he owned. Perhaps Kennedy summed up his life best in his

own inaugural speech: "Ask not what your country can do

for you, but ask what you can do for your country."  

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