jfkck was made Lieutenant and sent to the South Pacific as captain of a patrol torpedo boat, the PT-109. Lieutenant Kennedy had twelve men whose mission was to destroy the enemy Japanese ships from getting supplies to their soldiers. On the dark fall night of August 2, 1943 Lieutenant Kennedys crew patrolled the waters looking for enemy ships to engage, when a Japanese destroyer suddenly became visible. But it was moving on engines at full and headed straight at them. Lieutenant Kennedy tried to swerve out of the way, but to no help. The increasingly larger Japanese warship rammed their patrol boat, splitting it in half and killing two of Kennedys men. The others managed to jump off as their boat was engulfed in flames. Kennedy was hit hard against the cockpit, injuring his back. Patrick McMahon, had horrible burns on both his face and hands and was about ready to give up. In the darkness Kennedy managed to find him and drag him back to where the other surviving crew were clinging to a piece of the boat that was still afloat. At sunrise, Kennedy led his men toward a small island several miles away. Despite his own injuries, Kennedy was able to tow Patrick McMahon ashore by a strap from McMahons life jacket clenched between Kennedys teeth. Six days later two native islanders found them and went for help, delivering a message that Jack Kennedy had written on a piece of coconut shell. The next day, the PT-109 crew was rescued.
When he returned home, Jack was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps metal for his leadership and courage. With the war finally coming to a close, it was time to choose the kind of work that he wanted to do. After serious discussions with Jack about his future, Joseph Kennedy, Jacks father, convinced him that he should make his family proud and run for a seat in Massachusetts’ eleventh congressional district, which he won in 1946. This was the beginning of Jacks political career. As the years went on, John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, served three terms which is six, in the House of Representatives, and in 1952 he was elected to the U.S. Senate.
Soon after being elected senator, John F. Kennedy, at thirty-six years of age, married twenty-four year-old Jacqueline Bouvier. Unfortunately, early on in their marriage, Senator Kennedys back started to hurt again and he had two operations. While recovering from surgery, he wrote a book about several U.S. senators who had risked their careers to fight for the things in which they believed. The book, called Profiles in Courage, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 1957. That same year, the Kennedys first child, Caroline, was born.
John F. Kennedy was becoming a popular politician; in 1956 he was almost picked to run for Vice President. Having been defeated, Kennedy decided that he would run for President in the next election. He began working very long hours and traveling all around the United States on weekends. On July 13, 1960 the Democratic party nominated him as its candidate for President. Kennedy asked Lyndon B. Johnson, a senator from Texas, to run with him as Vice President. In the general election on November 8th 1960, Kennedy beat Republican Richard M. Nixon in a very close race. At the age of forty-three, Kennedy was the youngest man ever elected President and the first ever Catholic. Before his swearing in, his second child, John Jr., was born.
When John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th President on January 20, 1961. In his inaugural speech he spoke of the need for all Americans to be active citizens. ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,’ he said. He also asked the nations of the world to join together to fight what he called the ‘common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.’ President Kennedy, together with his wife and two children, brought a new, young and youthful spirit to the White House. The Kennedys believed that the White House should be a place to celebrate American history, culture, and achievement. Jacqueline Kennedy also shared the same interest in American history as her husband. Gathering the finest art and furniture the United States had produced, she restored all the rooms in the White House back to their natural beauty to make it a place that truly reflected Americas history.
The White House also seemed like a fun place, because of the Kennedys two young children, Caroline and John-John. There was a pre-school, a swimming pool, and a tree-house outside on the White House lawn. President Kennedy was probably the busiest man in the country, but he still found time to laugh and play with his children.
However, the President also had many things on his mind. One of the things he worried about most was the possibility of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. He knew that if there was a war, millions of people would die. Since World War II, there had been a lot of anger and suspicion between the two countries but never any shooting between Soviet and American troops. This ‘Cold War’, which was unlike any other war the world had seen, was really a struggle between the Soviet Union’s communist system of government and the United States’ democratic system. Because they distrusted each other, both countries spent enormous amounts of money building nuclear weapons. There were many times when the struggle between the Soviet Union and the United States could have ended in disaster or war, such as in Cuba and in the city of Berlin. President Kennedy worked long hours, getting up at seven and not going to bed until eleven or twelve at night, or later. He read six newspapers while he ate breakfast, had meetings with important people throughout the day, and read reports from his advisers. He wanted to make sure that he made the best decisions for his country. President Kennedy wanted the United States to move forward into the future with new discoveries in science and improvements in education, employment and other fields. He wanted democracy and freedom for the whole world.
One of the first things President Kennedy did was to create the peace corp, through this program, which still exists today; Americans can volunteer where help is needed. Many young men and women have served as Peace Corps volunteers and have won the respect of many people throughout the world.
President Kennedy was also eager for the United States to lead the way in exploring space. The Soviet Union was ahead of the United States in its knowledge of space and President Kennedy was determined to catch up. He said, No nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space. Kennedy was the first president to ask congress for over two billion dollars for program Apollo, which had the goal of landing an American man on the moon before the end of the decade.
On November 21, 1963, President Kennedy flew to Texas to give several political speeches. The next day, as his car drove slowly past cheering crowds in Dallas, shots rang out. Kennedy was seriously wounded and died a short time later. Within a few hours of the shooting, police arrested Lee Harvey Oswald and charged him with the murder. On November 24, another man, Jack Ruby, shot and killed Oswald, thus silencing the only person who could have offered more information about this tragic event. The Warren Commission was organized to investigate the assassination and to clarify the many questions which remained.
The Legacy of John F. Kennedy will never be forgotten; President Kennedy’s death caused enormous sadness and grief among all Americans. Most people still remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news of the president being shot. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Washington for the President’s funeral, and millions throughout the world watched it on television.
As the years have gone by and other Presidents have written their chapters in history, John Kennedy’s brief time in office stands out in people’s memories for his leadership, personality, and accomplishments. Many respect his coolness when faced with difficult decisions–like what to do about the missiles in Cuba. Others admire his ability to inspire people with his elegant speeches. Still others think his compassion and his willingness to fight for new government programs to help the poor, the elderly and the ill were most important.