Word Kathleen. Joe, Jr., was a significant figure

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Word Count: 1878JFK: 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 So 2 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 So 3 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 So
4 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 in the South Pacific hoping for a patrol to come by.

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The lieutenant had no idea he had been in the water for eight
hours. Finally, an island was spotted that could provided
cover from Japanese planes. With no edible plants or water,
Kennedy realized that he and the crew must move on. The
next day, he once again attempted to search for rescue.

After treading water for hours, the lieutenant was forced to
admit no patrol boats were coming. He turned back for the
island but was swept away by a powerful current. Kennedy
collapsed on an island and slept. He recovered enough
energy to return to the island and gathered the crew to move
to another island in search of food. JFK was now desperate
enough to seek help from natives on a Japanese controlled
island. After making contact with the natives, Kennedy
persuaded the natives to deliver a message written on the
back of a coconut shell to allied forces. The coconut fell into
the hands of allied scouts and a patrol was sent. The coconut
would appear again on the desk of an American
President(Anderson 35). The crew of the PT 109 were
given a hero’s welcome when they returned to base, but
Kennedy would have none of it. He refused home leave and
was given another boat. In constant pain from the back
injury, JFK soon contracted malaria, became very ill, and
lost twenty-five pounds. He was forced to give up command
and was sent So 5 home to Chelsea Naval Hospital near
Hyannis Port. The lieutenant received the Purple Heart, the
Navy and Marine Corps Medal, and a citation from Admiral
W. F. Halsey. John’s back failed to recover was an
operation was performed on his spine in the summer of
1944. During recovery, Kennedy received word that his
brother Joe, Jr. had been killed in action. Joe had been
eligible for home leave, but had volunteered for a special
bombing mission. The bombs had detonated early and Joe
and his copilot were caught in the explosion. Kennedy put
his feelings onto paper and a second book was published for
the family and close friends. He called it As We Remember
Joe. The family- particularly JFK’s father- had assumed that
Joe, Jr. would carry on the family tradition and go into
politics. Both of his grandfathers had been active in
politics(Anderson 41). Now , suddenly, JFK was the oldest
Kennedy of his generation. Kennedy’s first chance in politics
came when Congressman James Curley from the 11th
District of Massachusetts decided to retire in 1946(Gadney
42). JFK won his first Congressional seat by a margin of
more than two to one. At the age if twenty-nine, JFK was
placed on the front page of the New York Times and in
Time Magazine. He was often mistaken in Congress as a
Senate page or an elevator operator. It was during this time
period in which Kennedy met and fell in love with Jacqueline
Bouvier. “Jackie”,as she was known, came from a wealthy
Catholic background as prestigious as the Kennedys. She
attended Vassar College and the Sorbonne in Paris, France.

She So 6 spoke French, Italian, and Spanish fluently. They
were wed on September 12,1953, at St. Mary’s Catholic
Church in Newport, Rhode Island. All seemed well, yet after
three two-year terms as a Congressman, Kennedy became
frustrated with House rules and customs and decided to run
for Senate. In 1952, Kennedy ran for Senate against
Republican Senator Henry Cabot Lodge. Fifteen years older
than Kennedy, Lodge was the incumbent of two terms in the
Senate. JFK prevailed in the victory but was soon stricken
with Addison’s disease during his first year in the Senate and
had to operate on a fifty-fifty chance for survival
procedure(Gadney 52). While recovering, Kennedy wrote
Profiles in Courage, a bestseller on examples of moral
courage in the lives of eight senators who risked their careers
for a great cause or a belief. Kennedy returned to Senate
and participated in the powerful Senate Foreign Relations
Committee. He was also chairman of the Senate
Subcommittee on Labor. JFK believed strongly in
education, equal job opportunity, and the civil rights
movement. His biggest success came in the form of his
Labor Reform Bill which passed by a margin of 90 to 1 in
Senate debate. Kennedy’s first child, Caroline, was born
during this time. Due to his enormous success in Congress,
the Democratic party nominated him for the presidential
ticket in 1960. Lyndon Johnson was chosen as the running
mate with Kennedy to secure and build upon the democratic
bases in the southern states while the Kennedys sought out
the younger voters, the factory So 7 workers, and the
liberals(Gadney 61). During the Kennedy Administration, a
great deal of events were going on.Jackie had given birth to
JFK, Jr., while all over the south, the civil rights movement
was going in full force with incidents breaking out. Specific
attention gathered around a black air force veteran, James
Meredith, applied for admission to the University of
Mississippi. In Cuba both the Bay of Pigs occurred, in which
U.S. supported rebels revolted in a poorly laid out plan of
events that fell out beneath them, and the Cuban Missile
Crisis in which the Soviet Republic were building missile silos
in Cuba, 100 miles away from Florida. The Space Race was
in full force with both Russia and the U.S. in competition to
reach the moon. U.S. involvement in Vietnam was in the
latter stages with plans to withdraw after the 1964 election.

On a trip to Dallas to stir up support for the reelection, the
President’s auto were coming down elm street when three
shots rang out. The first projectile entered at the base of
Kennedy’s neck and exited through the back of his head.

The second bullet hit Texas Governor John Connally.

Seconds later there was another shot and the back of the
president’s head was torn away. The assassin- Lee Harvey
Oswald with a mail-order rifle fired from the Texas School
Book Depository(Warren 5). Oswald had recently applied
for a passport to Communist Russia which led to a series of
private meetings between Oswald and the Russian
Government(Warren 614). Oswald protested his innocence.

President Johnson set up what quickly became known as the
So 8 Warren Commission headed by Chief Justice Warren
to find the motive behind the assassination, The Commission
finds the lone, depressed, mentally unstable, anti-social nut
kills an American president(“Theories” 1). Other theories
have evolved over time such as the Grassy Knoll theory.

Witnesses say that a man in black was present and fired
simultaneously with Oswald and doubled the actual shots
fired(“Theories” 1) Another theory is that the fired CIA
director Allen Dulles used his considerable connections and
plotted revenge(“Theories 2”). On Nov. 24, 1963 as
Oswald was being escorted from the city jail, Jack Ruby
shot Oswald with a single shot from a Colt .38
revolver(Warren 350). Ruby was arrested and stood trial in
Dallas. He was found guilty and was sentenced to hang. He
died in jail of cancer, on January 3,1967. Kennedy was the
first President to be born in the twentieth century and was
very much a man of his time. He was restless, seeking, with
a thirst of knowledge, and he had a feeling of deep
commitment, not only to the people of the United States, but
to the peoples of the world. Many of the causes he fought
for exist today because of what he did for the rights of
minorities, the poor, the very old and the very young. He
never took anything for granted and worked for everything
he owned. Perhaps Kennedy summed up his life best in his
own inaugural speech: “Ask not what your country can do
for you, but ask what you can do for your country.”

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