By Mark Breslin
John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, on May 29, 1917. He was the second son of nine children born to Joseph P. Kennedy who was a multimillionaire and his wife, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. Joseph’s father had served in the government in Boston, Massachusetts. Rose’s father, John Francis Fitzgerald had been a politician, the mayor of Boston, and a U.S. congressman. Joseph himself had being ambassador to Great Britain the Kennedy’s were a wealthy family with a long history of political and public service.
Kennedy went to the Canterbury parochial school and the Choate School. One of his teachers later said that people in school liked him more for his personality than for his accomplishments. He was often ill during his childhood and spent much of this time reading. Kennedy then went to Princeton University in 1935 but illness soon forced him to leave. Upon getting better he went to Harvard University, where he studied government and international relations. During his first year at Harvard, he traveled to Europe and saw the events that were leading to World War II. He used what he saw to write a book called England Slept.
After graduating from Harvard with honors Kennedy went to Stanford University. In April 1941 he tried to join the U.S. Army but was they would not take him because of physical reasons (a back injury). Months later, after his back got better the U.S. Navy accepted him. He then became an intelligence officer in Washington, D.C. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Kennedy requested duty at sea.
Following his training with the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron, he was shipped to the South Pacific to fight in the war against Japan. In March 1943 he was given command of a patrol torpedo boat, In August his boat was sliced in two by a Japanese destroyer and two of his crew where killed. Kennedy and four others clung to the half of the boat that remained afloat. Six other men survived in the nearby water, two wounded. Kennedy got the wounded men to the floating wreck. When it capsized, he ordered his men to swim to a small island about three miles away. He towed one man to shore. Several days later they were rescued. He got a medal for his bravery
After the war he returned to normal life. Kennedy did newspaper work for several months. However, coming from a family who liked politics, Kennedy wanted a career in politics .In 1946 he became a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts. Kennedy built a large organization for his campaign. On tours he met as many voters as possible. He talked to people about the topics that they were concerned with. In this campaign his brothers, sisters, and mother supported him. His brothers, Robert and Edward, acted as his managers, while his sisters and mother held social events to raise money.
Kennedy won the primary, the autumn election, and reelection to the House in 1948 and again in 1950. He worked for better social welfare programs. He spoke a lot about low-cost public housing or affordable places for people to live. In 1949 he became a member of the Joint Committee on Labor-Management Relations. Here he was a strong supporter of labor, working for higher wages and better working conditions.
Kennedy supported the programs of President Harry Truman, including social welfare progressive taxation, and regulation of business. However, he did not follow Truman’s policies in foreign relations. For example, he was against the fighting in Korea.
In April 1952 Kennedy ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate against Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. a Republican. Kennedy won by over seventy thousand votes. Kennedy’s political success was soon followed by high points in his personal life. On September 12, 1953, Kennedy married Jacqueline Lee Bouvier John and Jacqueline Kennedy had three children: Caroline Bouvier John Fitzgerald, Patrick Bouvier who lived only a few days after his birth in 1963.Another child was born dead in 1956.
When he took his Senate seat in January 1953, Kennedy continued to support labour, economic and foreign relations issues. He worked on the Labour and Public Welfare Committee, the Government Operations Committee, the Select Committee on Labor-Management Relations, and the Joint Economic Committee. He also worked to pass several laws to help the Massachusetts fishing and textile industries and to improve New England’s economy.
His old back injuries began acting up and it forced Kennedy to use crutches during 1954.He had an operation in October 1954 and another one in February 1955. He spent his months of illness and recovery writing biographies of Americans who had shown great courage at difficult points in their lives. These biographies became the best-selling book Profiles in Courage (1956), which won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 1957.
Kennedy’s work attracted national attention. After he lost the vice presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1956, he decided to run for president. He announced his candidacy in January 1960, Kennedy made tours and won the Democratic primaries in New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Oregon, Maryland, Nebraska, and West Virginia. In July, 1960, Kennedy was nominated for president, with Lyndon B. Johnson as his running mate. At the inauguration on January 20, 1960, the first U.S. president born in the twentieth century was sworn into office. Kennedy’s inaugural address included the challenge: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.
During his time as president he was involved in a number of events such as Civil Rights Vietnam and Cuba however it was all to end in tragedy in Dallas on November 1963. In November 1963 JFK decide to visit Texas and the city of Dallas
He was in Texas to get support for the upcoming election, .His wife Jackie had never been there before.On 22nd November, 1963, he arrived in Dallas. It was decided that Kennedy his wife, Governor John Connally and Senator Ralph Yarborough, would travel through the business district of Dallas. At about 12.30 p.m. the presidential limousine entered Dealey Plaza. Soon afterwards a shot was fired. Secret Service agent Roy Kellerman “let’s get out of here.” However, the driver hits the breaks. More bullets were fired and JFK was hit in the head and the left shoulder. Another bullet hit John Connally in the back. At this point Jackie Kennedy crawled onto the backseat of the limousine.
Ten seconds after the first shots had been fired the president’s car drove off at high speed towards Parkland Memorial Hospital. JFK was carried into an emergency room. But his injuries were serious. He had a massive wound to the head and at 1 p.m. he was declared dead. Witnesses at the scene of the assassination claimed they had seen shots being fired from behind a wooden fence on the Grassy Knoll and from the Texas School Book Depository. The police investigated these claims and during a search of the book they found a rifle and three empty cartridge cases.
At 1.16 p.m. a Dallas policeman, approached a man walking along East 10th Street. A witness later said in court that after a short conversation the man pulled out a gun and fired a number of shots at Tippet the man running off leaving the dying Tippet on the ground. Twenty minutes later, a manager of a shoe shop, saw a man who appeared to be hiding from passing police. He called the police after he saw the man enter a cinema. When the police arrived the shop manager went with the officers into the cinema where he pointed out the man he had seen. After a brief struggle the man was arrested. His name was Lee Harvey Oswald.
The police soon found out that Oswald worked at the Texas School Book Depository. They also discovered his print on the rifle that was found earlier that day. Other evidence showed that Oswald had been involved in the killing of JFK. The police also discovered that the rifle was purchased under the name A. Hiddell. When he was arrested, the police found that Oswald was carrying a forged identity card bearing the name Alek Hiddell. The rifle had been sent by the mail order company from Chicago to P.O. Box 2915, Dallas, Texas. The Post Office box belonged to Oswald. While being interrogated by the Dallas Police, Oswald denied he had been involved in the killing of Kennedy. He claimed that he was. On 24th November, 1963, the Dallas Police decided to send to Oswald to the county jail. As Oswald was led through the basement of police headquarters a man rushed forward and shot him in the stomach. The gunman was quickly arrested by police officers. Lee Harvey Oswald died soon afterwards. The man who killed him was identified as Jack Ruby. After the death of John F. Kennedy, his deputy, Lyndon B. Johnson, was appointed president. He immediately set up a commission to find out, who had killed JFK. The seven man group was headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren and included Gerald Ford, Allen W. Dulles, John J. McCloy, Richard B. Russell, John S. Cooper and Thomas H. Boggs. The ten-month investigation of the Warren Commission concluded that the President was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald. This conclusion was met with support among the American public. However, polls conducted from 1966 to 2004 concluded approximately 80% of the American public have held beliefs that they go against these findings. The assassination is still the subject of widespread debate and has spawned numerous conspiracy theories .
While doing this essay the one fact that I kept noticing was how did one man inspire a nation and motivate Americans to work harder and give something back to their government? John F. Kennedy will long be remembered for challenging the American people–to put a man on the moon, put aside racial prejudices, join a volunteer corps to help undeveloped countries.