Author: John F. Kennedy

JFK

The youngest man to be elected president and the only Roman Catholic to hold the office, John F. Kennedy (1917–63) became the thirty-fifth president of the United States in 1961. Born outside of Boston in 1917, Kennedy graduated from Harvard in 1940 and served as a lieutenant in the United States Navy during World War II, earning a Navy and Marine Corps Medal for heroic conduct in action. In 1947, shortly after returning from the war, Kennedy was elected to represent Massachusetts in the US House of Representatives. He entered the Senate in 1953, and in 1960 he narrowly defeated Richard M. Nixon to serve as President of the United States. While in office, Kennedy encountered the early stages of the Cold War during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the construction of the Berlin Wall, and the escalating involvement of the American military in Vietnam. He was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963.

Letter to His Parents

John F. Kennedy

On August 2, 1943, then-Lieutenant (j.g.) John F. Kennedy (1917–63) was commanding a patrol torpedo boat off the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Theater when a Japanese destroyer rammed and sunk his vessel. Despite injuring his back in the collision, Kennedy towed an injured crewman to an island by clinching the man’s lifejacket strap in his teeth as they swam to shore. Kennedy then swam many more hours to secure aid and food after getting the rest of his crew ashore. For his “outstanding courage, endurance and leadership [that] contributed to the saving of several lives,” he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal. He wrote this letter home shortly after this experience.

Veterans Day Remarks, 1961

John F. Kennedy

Seven years after President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day, President John F. Kennedy (1917–63)—like Ike, a World War II veteran—gave his first Veterans Day address at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.