John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States. He is commonly referred to by his initials: JFK. He took office in 1961, and served until November 1963, when he was assassinated in Texas.
JFK was born in 1971 in Massachusetts, to an Irish immigrant family. Several of his family members were involved in politics. He was the second of nine children. His family moved to New York City in 1927. In his school years, he was a troublemaker, and lit a firecracker in a toilet at school. His college years were marked with bad health, as he was put in the hospital several times for colitis, and had problems with his back. Despite his illnesses, he was an active athlete.
He joined the U.S. Navy during World War II in 1941. In 1943, he was put in command of PT-109, a patrol boat, and stationed in the Pacific. His ship was rammed by a Japanese destroyer and sank. Two men died and JFK's back was injured further. He and his men swam for miles until they were rescued. Kennedy saved an injured crew member during this time. He received a Navy and Marine Corps Medal as well as the Purple Heart for his actions. In 1944, his older brother, a Navy pilot, was killed in action.
JFK was fully retired from the Navy in 1945 as a lieutenant. His older brother had been meant to enter politics, but since he had died, JFK was selected by his father to become a politician. He ran for Congress and won, serving first in the House of Representatives for six years, and then for another seven years as a U.S. Senator of Massachusetts.
In 1960, JFK ran for U.S. President on the Democrat ticket. In September 1960, he and his opponent, Richard Nixon, who would later become the President a decade later, appeared in the first presidential debates in American history to be televised. He beat Nixon and became the youngest U.S. president in history. JFK's inaugural address is a landmark speech, in which he said that citizens should 'ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.'
A major event of his presidency was the Bay of Pigs Invasion, in which the CIA formed a plan to invade Communist Cuba and create a rebellion which would overthrow Fidel Castro, Cuba's leader at the time. Kennedy approved the plan. However, the plan failed, and JFK had to negotiate with Cuba for the release of over 1,000 Americans who participated in the plan.
The president was faced with another big issue, the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1962, CIA spy planes saw that Cuba was building missile launch sites, which they thought could fire nuclear bombs at the U.S. If the U.S. attacked, it might lead to nuclear war with Russia. If the U.S. did nothing, then it would have nukes pointed at them close to home. JFK decided to put a blockade around Cuba. He and the Soviet leader, Khrushchev, agreed to a compromise after two weeks, and the Cuban missile silos were removed.
He is most famous for his space policy. He declared to the world that the U.S. would be the first to put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. He said America was doing things like this 'not because they are easy, but because they are hard.'
In 1963, JFK was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, while being driven through the streets of the city in a motorcade. He was shot twice by a man with a rifle. The suspect was Lee Harvey Oswald, but he was killed by a man named Jack Ruby before he could be tried for the murder of JFK. Ever since, the president's death, it has been the subject of conspiracy theories. JFK was well-remembered after his death, and in 1969, his dream of putting an American on the moon was fulfilled by the Apollo 11 mission.
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