JFK: 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