John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29th, 1917 – November 22rd, 1963) was the 35th president of the United States serving from 1961 to 1963.
His father was Joseph Kennedy, Sr., and his mother was Rose Fitzgerald. John’s (or Jack’s) family were descendants of Irish immigrants. Jack's family had nine children, and including his parents, there were eleven people in his family. Jack had a dachshund named Offie. When he was in grades four to six, he attended Riverdale Country Day School. In June 1929 his family moved to Bronxville, New York. He went to Canterbury Preparatory School. It was a Catholic boarding school in New Milford, Connecticut. In 1931 he joined his brother Joe, Jr. at Choate School in Wallingford, Connecticut, another boarding school. He made the football, basketball, baseball, rowing and golf teams at Choate. He was very thin at this age. He was expelled because he didn’t like the rules. He was sloppy and didn’t like his routine. In 1936 he agreed to go to Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In college he had a serious attack of jaundice, which is a symptom of disease. The common sign of jaundice is when your skin turns yellow because yellow fluids build up in your liver. Luckily, he recovered from this attack. When he graduated in 1940, he joined the Navy. Then World War II broke out and he became the captain of a PT boat.
When Jack became the President of the United States of America, he was the youngest president in history at age forty-two. He was also the first Irish Catholic president. He was the thirty-fifth president.
Kennedy and his family faced several challenges. One challenge is when Jack got sick. He got hives in school and he also had hepatitis, a blood disease. Also, Kennedy was not supported in his campaign to be president. Here is another challenge Kennedy went through when he was in the navy. He piloted a PT boat (torpedo boat). It was the PT-109. It had a twelve-man crew. Kennedy went on his first mission. He had to destroy any Japanese destroyers he found. It was dark and he was part of a group of twelve PT boats. Night was the only time to do it because they would not be noticed. One of the men on PT-109 saw a Japanese destroyer 200 feet away. Kennedy turned the wheel. The Japanese destroyer hit them. The gas tanks blew up. Two men died. Kennedy had to pull a man by the rope on his life jacket because he could not swim. He pulled him with his teeth. They got to an island three miles away. Kennedy had a disc injury in his back. The island that they were on had no food, so they swam to another island that had food. He asked a native to give his information to Lieutenant Arthur Evan who was an Australian naval lookout. Kennedy wanted to get even with the Japanese, so he got gunboat number 1. The torpedo tubes were taken away and replaced with large machine guns in the front. It had better fire power to attack Japanese ships that carried supplies to their bases.
John had several character traits. One trait was his bravery. during the Second World War when Kennedy was fighting in the Pacific War, his torpedo boat was rammed by a Japanese destroyer, lightly injuring his back and killing two of his crewmembers. The gas tanks blew up and the boat was split into two pieces. Despite his injury, Kennedy who was a good swimmer, focused on his remaining crew members and led them away from the flaming waters. One man couldn't swim so Kennedy had to pull him to safety by the rope on his lifejacket. He pulled him with his teeth. Kennedy and his surviving crew members swam to an island three miles away. The island that they were on had no food, so they swam to another island that had food. He asked a native to give his information to Lieutenant Arthur Evan who was an Australian naval lookout. After returning to base, Kennedy wanted to get even with the Japanese, so he got another gunboat. The torpedo tubes were taken away and replaced with large machine guns in the front. It had better fire power to attack Japanese ships that carried supplies to their bases. The first island he and his crewmembers reached was called Plum Pudding Island, it would be renamed “Kennedy Island”. Another character trait is that he was anti-communist. He ordered an attempted invasion of Cuba to stop the communists and stood up to the Russians in the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was also an idealist. He fought for civil rights and world peace. As an example of this he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."
Kennedy accomplished many things; he created the Peace Corps. He expanded the space program and the project to get to the moon first. He also helped America become a superpower because he didn’t back down during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Many of Kennedy's speeches (especially his inaugural address) are considered iconic; Americans regularly vote him as one of the greatest 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.
- Prevented Nuclear Armageddon: in October 1962, an American U-2 spy plane photographed nuclear missile sites being built in Cuba. Kennedy considered a U.S. air strike to destroy the missiles, but there was uncertainty about whether or not the nuclear weapons in Cuba were already operational, which meant that any such attack could have sparked a nuclear war. After days of deliberation, on Oct. 22, 1962, Kennedy ordered the establishment of a naval blockade, or "quarantine," around Cuba to prevent the Soviets from bringing in more nuclear weapons and military supplies. For 13 days in October 1962, the world was on the brink of a nuclear war, but as a result of Kennedy's leadership, a peaceful resolution was reached. In the face of a major crisis, Kennedy showed firmness and resolve, and emerged as both a national and global hero.