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    John “Jack” Fitzgerald Kennedy was born on May 29, 1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts. He was born into a successful and influential Irish American family. One of his grandfathers John F. Fitzgerald, was a politician who got elected into Congress in 1894, and twelve years later became the first Irish American mayor of Boston and served three terms between 1906 and 1914. His other grandfather was Patrick J. Kennedy, who bought a string of taverns and bars. He later opened a liquor importing company and even later bought interests in a coal company and a bank. (5) pg.26-27. His father Joseph Kennedy who became president of a bank at the age of 25, and his mother Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy were married in 1914. (5) pg. 27. John was often sick throughout his childhood, and his mother, who kept notes which recorded the growth and developments of her children, noted that during his childhood he had chicken pox, whooping cough, and measles. At the age of three he even had a case of scarlet fever which was so serious that he had to be hospitalized for a whole month. His illnesses however, did not stop him from enjoying sports like football, basketball, golf and tennis. (6) pg.7.     In 1936, John went to Harvard as his father had, and where his brother Joe was also a student. (6) pg.7. Although he was smart and thoughtful, he was at best a mediocre student, preferring sports, girls and practical jokes to coursework. (2). As a student at Harvard University, Jack traveled in Europe as his father’s secretary. His senior thesis “Why England Slept” was later published as a book. (1). After graduating from Harvard, John joined the U.S. Navy and was assigned to command a patrol torpedo boat in the South Pacific. On August 2, 1943, his boat, PT-109, was rammed by a Japanese warship and split in two. He hauled a wounded sailor by the strap of his life vest, and led the rest of the survivors to a nearby island, where they were rescued six days later. This earned him the Navy and Marine Corps Medal and a Purple Heart. However, Kennedy’s older brother, Joseph Kennedy Jr., who had also joined the Navy, died when his plane blew up in August 1944. (2).     In 1946, John decided to run for the U.S. House of Representatives. His status as a war hero, his family connections and his father’s money helped him win the election. Even though he served three terms in Congress, from 1946 to 1952, Kennedy was unsatisfied with his position and thought it to be incredibly dull. He felt that all of the rules and procedures prevented him from making a real impact. (2). He was not taken seriously and sometimes even ignored “We’re just worms, nobody pays much attention to us nationally” he once said. (4).     In 1952, Kennedy decided to challenge Republican incumbent Henry Cabot Lodge for his seat in the U.S. Senate. No one thought that Kennedy could beat Lodge. Nevertheless, JFK turned out to be victorious. According to one of his aides, Kennedy won because of his personality: “He was the new kind of political figure that people were looking for that year, dignified and gentlemanly and well-educated and intelligent, without the air of superior condescension.” (2). On September 12, 1953, John married a journalist named Jacqueline Lee Bouvier. The wedding was a major social event that was written about in newspapers all around the country. (4). Two years later, Kennedy wrote the book, “Profiles in Courage,” which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1957.    In 1956, Kennedy announced his candidacy for president. He defeated a primary challenge from Hubert Humphrey and chose Lyndon Johnson as his running mate. In the general election, Kennedy faced a difficult battle against his Republican opponent, Richard Nixon, who was a two-term vice president under Dwight D. Eisenhower. Kennedy offered a young, energetic alternative to Nixon. (1). Jack was not in this race alone. His whole family pitched in and helped, whether it be by hosting house parties or by visiting schools, factories and restaurants, and talking with people about JFK. Once, Kennedy’s wife, Jackie went into a supermarket and asked to use the loudspeaker to talk about her husband. (4).In the election, Kennedy won by a narrow margin of less than 120,000 votes and became the youngest man and the first Catholic to be elected president of the United States. In his inaugural address, JFK uttered the famous closing words “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” (1).    One of the first things that Kennedy did in office was launch the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps was established on March 1, 1961. The program was an outgrowth of the Cold War. The Soviet Union had hundreds of scientists, teachers, engineers, and doctors prepared to spend their lives abroad in the service of world communism. Kennedy saw this and wanted the United States to have a program that involved Americans more actively in the cause of peace, development, and freedom. The Peace Corps consisted of volunteers that would live in foreign countries, help the locals, “share their skills to solve challenges that face developing communities.” The volunteers worked in areas such as community development, environmental protection, health, and education. (8).     Another accomplishment of John F. Kennedy is his civil rights bill. Although there were already laws in place regarding segregation, these laws were being broken. There was segregation on buses, in public bathrooms, in restaurants, and in other public places. JFK decided that it was time to help the civil rights movement, and in June 11, 1963, he proposed a new Civil Rights bill to the Congress, and said a speech on television regarding racism. “One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free,” he said. “This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds…and on the principle that all men are created equal.” President Kennedy believed all Americans, regardless of their skin color, should enjoy life in the United States. (7).    One of the challenges that JFK had to face during his time as president, were the tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union. He was aware of the possibility of a nuclear war between the two countries. When President Kennedy found out that the Soviets were building missile sites in Cuba, and that they were a threat for the United States, he blockaded the island of Cuba. The following few days were some of the tensest in history, and the world was on the brink of nuclear war, but then the Soviets agreed to remove the missile sites in Cuba in return for Kennedy’s promise not to invade the island and to remove the U.S. missiles from Turkey. In July 1963, JFK “won his greatest foreign affairs victory when Khrushchev agreed to join him and Britain’s Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in signing a nuclear test ban treaty.” (1). The tensions between the United States and the Soviet union could have erupted in a nuclear war at any time, but thanks to Kennedy’s good judgment and God’s will, the tensions were resolved.    Another challenge that Kennedy faced was known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion. It was a covert mission to overthrow the communist leader of Cuba, Fidel Castro. On April 15, 1961, Kennedy approved a plan to send 1,500 CIA-trained Cuban exiles to Cuba to start a rebellion. The mission failed and almost all of the exiles were either killed or captured. (2). This was one of his most embarrassing mistakes.     On November 21, 1963, President Kennedy flew to Texas to give several speeches. The next day, on November 22, as his car drove past cheering crowds in Dallas, in a convertible, a warehouse worker named Lee Harvey Oswald, a former marine with Soviet sympathies shot the president twice. Kennedy was seriously wounded and died a short time later at Parkland Memorial Hospital, at the age of 46. Within a few hours of the shooting, police arrested Lee Harvey Oswald and charged him with the murder. On Novembet 24, another man, Jack Ruby, a nightclub owner shot and killed Oswald. The only person who could have offered more information about the shooting was now dead. (7). There are many conspiracy theories surrounding the JFK assassination, but the official version is that Oswald acted alone.     Kennedy was a hero to many, but he was not without his flaws. 

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