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John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917)

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  Summary  

John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy (May 29, 1917– November 22, 1963), often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963.

After military service as commander of the Motor Torpedo Boats PT-109 and PT-59 during World War II in the South Pacific, Kennedy represented Massachusetts's 11th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1947 to 1953 as a Democrat. Thereafter, he served in the U.S. Senate from 1953 until 1960. Kennedy defeated then Vice President and Republican candidate Richard Nixon in the 1960 U.S. presidential election. He was the youngest elected to the office, at the age of 43,
the second-youngest President , and the first president to have been born in the 20th century. Kennedy is the only Catholic president, and is the only president to have won a Pulitzer Prize. Events during his presidency included the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the building of the Berlin Wall, the Space Race, the African American Civil Rights Movement and early stages of the Vietnam War.

Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas. Lee Harvey Oswald was charged with the crime, but was shot and killed two days later by Jack Ruby before a trial could take place. The FBI, the Warren Commission, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that Oswald was the lone assassin, with the HSCA allowing for the possibility of conspiracy based on disputed acoustic evidence. Today, Kennedy continues to rank highly in public opinion ratings of former U.S. presidents.

  Biography  

 early life and education
John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born at 83 Beals Street in Brookline, Massachusetts on Tuesday, May 29, 1917, at 3:00 pm, the second son of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., and Rose Fitzgerald; Rose, in turn, was the eldest child of John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, a prominent Boston political figure who was the city's mayor and a three-term member of Congress. Kennedy lived in Brookline for ten years and attended Edward Devotion School, Noble and Greenough Lower School, and the Dexter School, through 4th grade. In 1927, the family moved to 5040 Independence Avenue in Riverdale, Bronx, New York City; two years later, they moved to 294 Pondfield Road in Bronxville, New York, where Kennedy was a member of Scout Troop 2 . Kennedy spent summers with his family at their home in Hyannisport, Massachusetts, and Christmas and Easter holidays with his family at their winter home in Palm Beach, Florida. For the 5th through 7th grade, Kennedy attended Riverdale Country School, a private school for boys. For 8th grade in September 1930, the 13-year old Kennedy attended Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut. In late April 1931, he had appendicitis requiring an appendectomy, after which he withdrew from Canterbury and recuperated at home.

In September 1931, Kennedy was sent to The Choate School in Wallingford, Connecticut, for his 9th through 12th grade years. His older brother Joe Jr., was already at Choate, two years ahead of him, a football star and leading student in the school. Jack spent his first years at Choate in his brother's shadow, and compensated for this with rebellious behavior that attracted a coterie. Their most notorious stunt was to explode a toilet seat with a powerful firecracker. In the ensuing chapel assembly, the strict headmaster, George St. John, brandished the toilet seat and spoke of certain "muckers" who would "spit in our sea". The defiant Jack Kennedy took the cue and named his group "The Muckers Club", which included roommate and friend Kirk LeMoyne "Lem" Billings. While at Choate, Kennedy was beset by health problems, culminating in 1934 with his emergency hospitalization at Yale – New Haven Hospital. In June 1934, he was admitted to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and diagnosed with colitis. Kennedy graduated from Choate in June 1935. For the school yearbook, of which he had been business manager, Kennedy was voted the "Most likely to Succeed".

In September 1935, he made his first trip abroad, with his parents and sister Kathleen, to London, with the intent of studying at the London School of Economics as his older brother Joe had done. There is uncertainty about what he did at LSE before returning to America in October 1935, when he enrolled late and spent six weeks at Princeton University. He was then hospitalized for two months of observation for possible leukemia at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston. He convalesced further at the Kennedy winter home in Palm Beach, then spent the spring of 1936 working as a ranch hand on a 40,000-acre cattle ranch outside Benson, Arizona. That summer he raced sailboats at the Kennedy home in Hyannisport.

In September 1936, Kennedy enrolled at Harvard College, where he produced that year's annual "Freshman Smoker", called by a reviewer "an elaborate entertainment, which included in its cast outstanding personalities of the radio, screen and sports world". He tried out for the football, golf, and swim teams and earned a spot on the varsity swim team. In July 1937, Kennedy sailed to France, with his convertible on board, and spent ten weeks driving through Europe with Billings. In June 1938, Kennedy sailed overseas with his father and brother Joe to work with his father, Roosevelt's U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James's, at the American embassy in London. In August the family went to a villa near Cannes. In 1939, Kennedy toured Europe, the Soviet Union, the Balkans, and the Middle East in preparation for his Harvard senior honors thesis. He then went to Czechoslovakia and Germany before returning to London on September 1, 1939, the day Germany invaded Poland. On September 3, 1939, the family was in the House of Commons for speeches endorsing the United Kingdom's declaration of war on Germany. Kennedy was sent as his father's representative to help with arrangements for American survivors of the SS Athenia, before flying back to the U.S. from Foynes, Ireland to Port Washington, New York on his first transatlantic flight.

As an upperclassman at Harvard, Kennedy became a more serious student and developed an interest in political philosophy. In his junior year he made the Dean's List. In 1940, Kennedy completed his thesis, "Appeasement in Munich", about British participation in the Munich Agreement. He initially intended his thesis to be private, but his father encouraged him to publish it. He graduated from Harvard College with a S.B. cum laude in international affairs in 1940. His thesis, published that year as a book entitled Why England Slept, became a bestseller. In the fall of 1940, Kennedy enrolled and audited classes at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. In early 1941, he helped his father complete the writing of a memoir of his three years as an American ambassador and then traveled throughout South America.

 legacy
Television became the primary source by which people were kept informed of events surrounding John F. Kennedy's assassination. Newspapers were kept as souvenirs rather than sources of updated information. In this sense it was the first major "TV news event" of its kind, the TV coverage uniting the nation, interpreting what went on and creating memories of this space in time. All three major U.S. television networks suspended their regular schedules and switched to all-news coverage from November 22 through November 25, 1963, being on the air for 70 hours, making it the longest uninterrupted news event on American TV until 9/11. Kennedy's state funeral procession and the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald were all broadcast live in America and in other places around the world. The state funeral was the first of three in a span of 12 months. The other two were for General Douglas MacArthur and Herbert Hoover. All three have two things in common: the commanding general of the Military District of Washington during those funerals was Army Major General Philip C. Wehle and the riderless horse was Black Jack, who also served in that role during Lyndon B. Johnson's funeral.

The assassination had an effect on many people, not only in the U.S. but around the world. Many vividly remember where they were when first learning of the news that Kennedy was assassinated, as with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 before it and the September 11 attacks after it. UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson said of the assassination: "all of us... will bear the grief of his death until the day of ours." Many people have also spoken of the shocking news, compounded by the pall of uncertainty about the identity of the assassin, the possible instigators and the causes of the killing as an end to innocence, and in retrospect it has been coalesced with other changes of the tumultuous decade of the 1960s, especially the Vietnam War.

Special Forces have a special bond with Kennedy. "It was President Kennedy who was responsible for the rebuilding of the Special Forces and giving us back our Green Beret," said Forrest Lindley, a writer for the newspaper Stars and Stripes who served with Special Forces in Vietnam. This bond was shown at JFK's funeral. At the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of JFK's death, Gen. Michael D. Healy, the last commander of Special Forces in Vietnam, spoke at Arlington Cemetery. Later, a wreath in the form of the Green Beret would be placed on the grave, continuing a tradition that began the day of his funeral when a sergeant in charge of a detail of Special Forces men guarding the grave placed his beret on the coffin.

Kennedy was the first of six Presidents to have served in the U.S. Navy, and one of the enduring legacies of his administration was the creation in 1961 of another special forces command, the Navy SEALs, which Kennedy enthusiastically supported.

Ultimately, the death of President Kennedy and the ensuing confusion surrounding the facts of his assassination are of political and historical importance insofar as they marked a turning point and decline in the faith of the American people in the political establishment—a point made by commentators from Gore Vidal to Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. and implied by Oliver Stone in several of his films, such as his landmark 1991 JFK.

Kennedy moved further on civil rights than his predecessors. In a radio and TV address to the nation in June 1963 — a century after Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation— Kennedy became the first president to call on all Americans to embrace civil rights as a moral imperative. The year after JFK's assassination, President Johnson pushed the landmark Civil Rights Act through a bitterly divided Congress by invoking the slain president's memory.

Kennedy's continuation of Presidents Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower's policies of giving economic and military aid to South Vietnam left the door open for President Johnson's escalation of the conflict. At the time of Kennedy's death, no final policy decision had been made as to Vietnam, leading historians and writers to continue to disagree on whether the Vietnam conflict would have escalated to the point it did had he survived. The Vietnam War contributed greatly to a decade of national difficulties and disappointment on the political landscape.

Many of Kennedy's speeches are considered iconic; and despite his relatively short term in office and lack of major legislative changes coming to fruition during his term, Americans regularly vote him as one of the best presidents, in the same league as Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Some excerpts of Kennedy's inaugural address are engraved on a plaque at his grave at Arlington.

He was posthumously awarded the Pacem in Terris Award. It was named after a 1963 encyclical letter by Pope John XXIII that calls upon all people of goodwill to secure peace among all nations. Pacem in Terris is Latin for 'Peace on Earth.'

President Kennedy is the only president to have predeceased both his mother and father. He is also the only president to have predeceased a grandparent. His grandmother, Mary Josephine Hannon Fitzgerald, died in 1964, just over eight months after his assassination.

Throughout the English-speaking world, the given name Kennedy has sometimes been used in honour of President Kennedy, as well his brother Robert.

 Eponyms
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport, American facility in New York City's Queens County; nation's busiest international gateway
  • John F. Kennedy Memorial Airport American facility in Ashland County, Wisconsin, near city of Ashland
  • John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge American seven-lane transportation hub across Ohio River; completed in late 1963, the bridge links Kentucky and Indiana
  • John F. Kennedy School of Government, American institution
  • John F. Kennedy Space Center, U.S. government installation that manages and operates America's astronaut launch facilities
  • John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School – trains United States Army personnel for the United States Army Special Operations Command and Army Special Operation Forces
  • John F. Kennedy University, American private educational institution founded in California in 1964; locations in Pleasant Hill, Campbell, Berkeley, and Santa Cruz
  • , U.S. Navy aircraft carrier ordered in April 1964, launched May 1967, decommissioned August 2007; nicknamed "Big John"
  • John F. Kennedy High School is the name of many secondary schools.
  • , U.S. Navy aircraft carrier to begin construction in 2012, and to be placed in commission in 2018.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "John Fitzgerald Kennedy", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.