JFK: His Life and Legacy



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 island to island