JFK: His Life and Legacy
Today we await the historic launch of a SpaceX rocket carrying NASA astronauts lift off from US soil for the first time in nearly a decade. The launch is rescheduled for Saturday from Kennedy Space Center, named for the late John F. Kennedy. As President, he was eager for the United States to lead the way in space exploration. “No nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space,” he said. President Kennedy requested 22 billion dollars from Congress with the goal of landing an American on the moon. The United States reached President Kennedy’s goal on July 20, 1969, when Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Adrin of Apollo 11 landed on the lunar surface of the moon.
Tomorrow we celebrate John F. Kennedy’s birthday.. He was born on May 29, 1917, in Brookline, Massachusetts, to Joseph Kennedy, a successful businessman, and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. The second of nine children, “Jack” ,as he was called, suffered from a series of ailments and accidents, but was determined to persevere as he followed his ambitious brother Joe to Harvard and then into the navy.
World War II changed Kennedy in many ways.. Jack was assigned to the South Pacific as commander of a patrol torpedo boat, whose mission was to stop Japanese ships from delivering supplies to their soldiers. On August 2, 1943 his PT boat was split in two by a Japanese destroyer, killing two of his men and re-injuring his back.. He never forgot his war experience and the pain of losing his brother when his plane blew up in Europe.
After the war, JFK was encouraged by his father to run for office. In 1946 he won election as congressman for Massachusetts and served for six years. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1952. In 1953, he married 24 year old Jacqueline Bouvier. Early in his marriage, he had two serious back operations. While recovering from surgery, he wrote the book, “Profiles in Courage’ in 1957, the same year his daughter, Caroline, was born. John Jr., was born in 1960.
At 43 years old, he became the youngest man elected President of the United States. In his inaugural address, he encouraged Americans to become active citizens. “Ask not what your country can do for
you, ask what you can do for your country”..
One of the first things President Kennedy did was to create the Peace Corps, which still exists today. It sends volunteers anywhere in the world to peo
ple needing assistance. As President, Kennedy had to deal with many serious problems. The Cuban Missile Crisis in late 1962 threatened the world with possible nuclear war. After secret negotiations with the Soviets, Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles from Cuba.
Racial discrimination was an even bigger problem. In 1954 the US Supreme Court had ruled that segregation in public schools was prohibited. Many schools did not obey the law. Segregation continued on buses, in restaurants, movie theaters and other public places. Thousands of Americans joined together to protest this injustice. In June 1963 Kennedy proposed a new Civil Rights bill to the Congress to end racism. Before the bill could get through Congress, JFK was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.
People remember John F. Kennedy as a President for his leadership, personality and accomplishments. During his short tenure, he is also remembered as a leader who made a difference. His words and actions made people want to work together and put their country’s interest first. Happy Birthday to the President.
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