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John F. Kennedy 1917-1963


Born on May 29, 1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy was a congressman and senator before becoming the 35th U.S. president in 1961. As president, he faced a number of foreign crises, especially in Cuba and Berlin, but managed to secure such achievements as the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty and the Alliance for Progress. In 1963, JFK was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas.

Nicknamed Jack, Kennedy was the second oldest of a group of nine extraordinary siblings. His brothers and sisters include Eunice Kennedy, the founder of the Special Olympics, Robert Kennedy, a U.S. Attorney General and Ted Kennedy, one of the most powerful senators in American history. The Kennedy children remained close-knit and supportive of each other throughout their entire lives. Handsome, charming and blessed with a radiant smile, Kennedy was incredibly popular with his Harvard classmates. Kennedy decided to research and write a senior thesis on why Britain was so unprepared to fight Germany in World War II. An incisive analysis of Britain's failures to meet the Nazi challenge, the paper was so well-received that upon Kennedy's graduation in 1940 it was published as book, Why England Slept, selling more than 80,000 copies. Shortly after graduating from Harvard, Kennedy joined the U.S. Navy and was assigned to command a patrol torpedo boat in the South Pacific. On August 2, 1943 his boat, PT-109, was rammed by a Japanese warship and split in two. Two sailors died and Kennedy badly injured his back. Hauling another wounded sailor by the strap of his life vest, Kennedy led the survivors to a nearby island, where they were rescued six days later. The incident earned him the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for "extremely heroic conduct" and a Purple Heart for the injuries he suffered. Kennedy continued to suffer frequent illnesses during his career in the Senate. While recovering from one surgery, he wrote another book, profiling eight senators who had taken courageous but unpopular stances. Profiles in Courage won the 1957 Pulitzer Prize for biography, and Kennedy remains the only American president to win a Pulitzer Prize.

On November 8, 1960, Kennedy defeated Nixon by a razor-thin margin to become the 35th President of the United States of America. Kennedy's election was historic in several respects. At the age of 43, he was the youngest American president in history. Delivering his legendary inaugural address on January 20, 1961, Kennedy sought to inspire all Americans to more active citizenship. "Ask not what your country can do for you," he said. "Ask what you can do for your country."

Kennedy's greatest accomplishments during his brief tenure as president came in the arena of foreign affairs. Capitalizing on the spirit of activism he had helped to ignite, Kennedy created the Peace Corps by executive order in 1961. By the end of the century, over 170,000 Peace Corps volunteers would serve in 135 countries. However, the greatest crisis of the Kennedy administration was the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. Kennedy finally sent a civil rights bill to Congress. One of the last acts of his presidency and his life, Kennedy's bill eventually passed as the landmark Civil Rights Act in 1964. November 22, 1963, Kennedy died at Parkland Memorial Hospital shortly thereafter, at the age of 46.                                                       

Source: http://www.biography.com/people/john-f-kennedy-9362930

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