JFK Fun Facts: Discover Intriguing Insights About the 35th President

John F. Kennedy, born in 1917, grew from Brookline, MA roots, through Harvard, to heroism in WWII, then into a notable U.S. political career.

Early Life and Political Rise

From Brookline to Harvard

John F. Kennedy was born on May 29, 1917, in Brookline, Massachusetts, to Joseph Patrick Kennedy Sr. and Rose Elizabeth Kennedy.

JFK attended private schools and eventually Harvard University, where he studied government and international affairs.

He completed his undergraduate thesis on British policy towards Germany during the 1930s, which was eventually published as a book entitled “Why England Slept.” Harvard University played a significant role in shaping Kennedy’s intellectual development and his passion for public service.

Military Service in World War II

After graduation, Kennedy joined the U.S. Navy and served in the Pacific theater of World War II.

As the commander of a Patrol Torpedo boat, JFK was part of the crew on PT-109, which was cut in half by a Japanese destroyer in August 1943.

Despite being injured, Kennedy led his surviving crew-members through the water to a deserted island, where they were eventually rescued.

For his bravery and leadership, he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal and the Purple Heart.

Entry into Politics

Following his military service, JFK returned to Massachusetts and decided to enter politics.

With the support of his father, Joseph Kennedy, he ran for the House of Representatives in 1946 and won.

After serving in the House for six years, John F. Kennedy successfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 1952.

While a senator, he married Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953.

In 1955, the couple had their first child, Caroline, followed by John Jr. in 1960.

Tragically, their third child, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, passed away two days after his birth in 1963.

JFK’s political rise was marked by his charisma, strong leadership, and commitment to public service.

These qualities would play an essential role in his successful bid for the presidency in 1960, making him the youngest president to be elected at just 43 years old.

Presidency and Legacy

A podium with JFK's presidential seal, surrounded by historical documents and photographs, symbolizing his presidency and legacy

The Cuban Missile Crisis

In October 1962, JFK faced one of the most significant events of his presidency, the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The United States discovered Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba, which marked the height of the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union.

After careful deliberation, JFK led America through a tense stand-off with the USSR and successfully negotiated the removal of the missiles, preventing a potential nuclear catastrophe.

Advancing Civil Rights

One of JFK’s strongest legacies is his push for civil rights.

As the 35th president, he advocated for equal rights for all Americans, regardless of race.

He took actions to desegregate the White House and federal government agencies, and proposed civil rights legislation.

His efforts laid the groundwork for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was signed into law by his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson.

Man on the Moon

John Fitzgerald Kennedy had a great interest in science and progress, and during his presidency, he set the ambitious goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s.

In a speech to Congress in 1961, JFK declared, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” His initiative laid the foundation for the Apollo 11 mission, which successfully fulfilled his dream in 1969.

Assassination in Dallas

Tragically, JFK’s presidency was cut short by his assassination in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.

As the first Catholic president of the United States and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Profiles in Courage,” JFK’s tragic death remains a significant moment in American history.

He was succeeded by Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, who took over the reins and continued to advance JFK’s political and social vision for the country.