“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” – John F. Kennedy. John Kennedy or otherwise known as Jack Kennedy, was the United State’s 35th President and had a huge impact on the U.S. in the 1960’s, good and bad. He came from a wealthy family that heavily impacted politics in the 60’s. Mr. Kennedy had a very big influence in the 60’s because of his life before politics, his road to president, his presidency, and his assassination.
John F. Kennedy was born on May 29, 1917, in Brookline, Massachusetts (History.com Staff 2009). He was the second of eight children. His siblings names were; Joseph Jr.(Joe), then him, Rosemary, Kathleen, Eunice, Patricia, Robert, Jean, and Edward (Heiligman 8). Jack had a lot of illnesses growing up, one being scarlet fever. When he had that he almost died. In 1941 he joined the Navy and made it back safely, but his brother Joe didn’t. Before Joe died his dad wanted him to become president. When John went back from the Navy he received the Navy and Marine Corps medal for his daring rescue of his fellow Americans of PT 109 (Heiligman 21). He also received the Purple Heart medal for his injuries that he gained in World War ॥. John’s dad then decided that John was going to become president, but John didn’t want to get into politics, and he felt like it was being drafted into the Army because he couldn’t say no to his dad (Heiligman 21).
After John began serving his time he started to run for Congress in Boston as a Democrat. He won his party’s nomination and entered Congress in January of 1947 at age 29. In 1952, John ran successfully for the Senate. John was in both the Senate and the House of Representatives before becoming president. On September 12, 1953 John married Jackie Lee Bouvier. In 1957, he wrote a book called Profiles in Courage. Also in 1957 his daughter Caroline was born (History.com Staff 2009).
After almost earning his party’s nomination in 1956 he announced on January 2, 1960 that he was going to run for president. He had to run against Richard Nixon who was the vice president to Dwight D. Eisenhower. In the November election Kennedy won by about less than 120,000 votes. He was the United States 35th president and he was the second youngest president to be elected at age 43, Teddy Roosevelt was the youngest at age 42. He was also the first Roman Catholic to become president (History.com Staff 2009).
Kennedy had a very famous line in his inaugural address and it was, “And so my fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you- ask what you can do for your country.” “This symbolised his spirit of service, of hope, and his belief that every person can make a difference” (Heiligman 37). Right after his election, his son John Jr. was born on November 25th, 1960.
In April 1961, three months after he became president, Kennedy had to deal with Cuba. Cuba was aligned with the Communist Soviet Union. Many of the Americans felt that it would be safer for the United States if Fidel Castro (Cuba’s leader) were taken out of power. The CIA had a plan to overthrow him, and they assured Kennedy that the plan would work. Their plan was to find all the people who had immigrated from Cuba and get them to go fight for the U.S. and get Fidel Castro out of power. The plan went wrong because the Cuban land was a rough terrain for the people fighting for the U.S. and most of them were captured by the Cuban government. This fight is now known as the Bay of Pigs Fiasco. It was a huge embarrassment for the United States, and John had to take responsibility for it. Another huge event in Kennedy’s presidency was the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Cuban Missile Crisis was the most nerve racking time in the history of the Cold War, this was because tension between the U.S. and the Soviet Union began to rise in 1962. The Soviet Union threatened to erupt into a full scale nuclear war on the United States. Also during this time in 1962, the U.S. put nuclear weapons in Turkey to attack the Soviet Union if they did anything the United States didn’t like. Once the Soviet Union found this out, they put nuclear weapons and troops in Cuba because they were aligned with them and because they were close the U.S. After a while of arguing and disagreeing the United States and the Soviet Union made an agreement, and they both removed their missiles and weapons from each country (History.com Staff 2009).
Going into Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, Kennedy knew that he had enemies, and that he could possibly get killed. John and Jackie sat in the back of an open-topped presidential limousine. He was given the opportunity to have a covered, bullet proof car, but he wanted the people of Dallas to see him. At 12:27 pm that afternoon, the Kennedys were traveling down Main street to Houston Street and then onto Elm Street. There was a building on the corner of Main Street that was an ideal sport for someone to shoot out. At 12:29 pm Nellie Connally (the governor of Texas’s wife) said to John, “Mr.Kennedy, you can’t say Dallas doesn’t love you.” “That is very obvious,” he replied. She said this because there were a lot of people on the sides of the streets cheering at him. At 12:31 pm there was a loud crackling noise that sent a shock through everyone at the parade. The people there weren’t able to piece together the sound and if the president was alright. Right after that John started grabbing his throat. Jackie and Governor Connally turned toward him and looked at him with confused looks. Then there was another crackling sound (now everybody knew that it was a gunshot) and both Kennedy and Connally hit their seats. John was hit in his head and Connally was hit in his arm. Jackie then started to climb onto the back of the car (she didn’t recall doing this) and grabbed a part of his brain. Then at around 12:35 pm the limo had pulled up to the hospital. The whole right side of his head had been blown away from the two bullets. At 1:00 pm the doctors announced President John F. Kennedy was dead. At 2:38 pm Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the new president, as Jackie Kennedy was standing next to him. This was the end of John F. Kennedy’s presidency (Gogerly 22-27).
John Kennedy’s life before politics, his road to becoming president, his presidency, and his assassination are all things that had a big influence on the 60’s. John was a well know man in the United States. He started out as a young boy who you would have never thought would become the 35th president. He served in the Senate and in the House of Representatives before becoming president. He had a few bumps in the road throughout his presidency, but he overcame them and took responsibility for his actions. John F. Kennedy was a very important person in the 1960’s and the United States wouldn’t be the same if he hadn’t become the president. He is a well missed man and he had a huge impact on the way we treat our presidents and the U.S. as a country.
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