Remembering John F. Kennedy
Today marks the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. On November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was fatally shot by a sniper while traveling with his wife, Jacqueline, in an open motorcade in Dallas, Texas. Celebrated as one of the most beloved Presidents of the United States, his death shocked the entire nation.
In honor of his memory, let’s take a look at his life and legacy as we remember him on the anniversary of his death.
The Kennedy family, 1931
Born May 29, 1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts, Kennedy was the second of nine children to Joseph “Joe” Kennedy and Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald. He was named after his maternal grandfather John Frances Fitzgerald, the mayor of Boston. As a young boy, Jack, as he was affectionately nicknamed by his family, was frequently ill. As he grew older, his health improved and before long he became quite popular in school, frequently partaking in a variety of sports. A bright boy, John would eventually join his older brother Joe at Harvard University in 1936.
Lt. John F. Kennedy, 1942
After graduating, both Joe and John joined the U.S. Navy. He earned the rank of lieutenant and commanded a patrol torpedo boat.
John F. Kennedy’s navy identification card
On August 2, 1943, while on a mission to stop Japanese ships from delivering supplies to soldiers, John’s ship was hit and the crew was forced to abandon ship. He led his men to an island several miles away, where they were able to be rescued. Upon returning home, he received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his leadership and courage.
John and Jacqueline Kennedy on their wedding day
Unsure about his future after being discharged from the navy, John followed his father’s encouragement and entered into politics. Soon after being elected senator of Massachusetts, John married Jacqueline Bouvier at St. Mary’s Church in Newport, Rhode Island. In 1957, the couple welcomed their daughter, Caroline, and three years later, their son John Jr., was born. With this political career on a high, the young politician would soon throw his hat into the presidential run.
1960 presidential campaign button
The 1960 presidential election proved to be a close one. A key turning point of the election were the debates between the Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy and Republican candidate Richard Nixon. As the first televised debates in history, the event attracted enormous publicity. For those who watched it on television, John’s calm appearance in contrast to Nixon’s visible uneasiness in front of the camera led many to believe he had won the debate.
Inaugural address, January 20, 1961
On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th President of the United States. In his inaugural address, he spoke of the need for all Americans to be active citizens, famously saying, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
His presidency is often described as a time of radical change. Relations between the U.S. and Soviet Union were wrought with tension as the fear of war between the two nations was palpable. The tension culminated into one of the greatest crisis of his administration in the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. In the space race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, the President pushed to make the United States the leaders in space exploration. One of the his first accomplishments upon entering office was the creation of the Peace Corps to help provide aid to people all over the world. The President also became an advocate of civil rights during the American Civil Rights movement, calling for an end to racial segregation and equality for all.
Tucson Daily Citizen, November 22, 1963
On November 22, 1963, President Kennedy, along with his wife and Texas governor John Connally, rode through the streets of downtown Dallas in an open convertible. The shot rang out at 12:30pm CST; the President had received a fatal shot to the head. Hours later, Lee Harvey Oswald would be arrested for the assassination of the President. This tragic event would remain in the collective memory of the entire world and 50 years later, people still remember where they were the moment they learned of the President’s death.
Posthumous official presidential portrait of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
Years after his death, the world continues to be inspired by his tremendous leadership and accomplishments.
Check out his family tree on Geni: