John F Kennedy JFK

John F Kennedy JFK

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John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born on May 29, 1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts. As the second of nine children, Kennedy was brought up in a Roman Catholic family that taught him the basic political principles of the Democratic Party. Throughout his life, John was a sick man. His frail health began since he was a child, with severe back pains that eventually forced him to undergo dangerous surgery in 1944, 1954, and 1955. He also suffered from Addison's disease, a withering of the adrenal glands. Shortly after becoming president, Kennedy had to have regular amphetamine injections in order to ease the pain, which were then thought to be harmless. According to some, both he and the first lady became heavily dependent
on the weekly shots. Despite his illnesses, Kennedy's personality gave him the strength required to lead a political career that can be described as active, confident, and vigorous. I believe that Kennedy's presidential career illustrates a portrayal of a man of high self-esteem; a person who corrects his own mistakes and can adapt to many situations while still having his own set of well-defined personal goals that cannot be swayed.
At age 29, Kennedy ran for Congress and received a huge majority of votes in the November election. After a few years however, he proved to be "too ambitious to stay in the Houses of Representatives." (Reeves, 2001) In 1952 John ran for the Senate against Henry Lodge and defeated him by 70,000 votes. An early sign of his high self-esteem came in 1954 when he was the only Massachusetts senator to stand up and support President Eisenhower's reciprocal-trade power, something that he believed was best for national interest. Prior to this, no Massachusetts congressman had ever voted for it over a period of twenty years.
It is evident that Kennedy was able to adapt to the changing times when he fully exploited the new available medium to the public—television. During his campaign, Kennedy showed poise in front of the camera during the widely viewed televised debates between himself and Nixon. When he became president, John continued to use television to his advantage, in weekly-televised press conferences. Photographs of John and his wife Jacqueline also appeared on many magazine and newspaper covers. Jacqueline herself became quite the national trendsetter. The Kennedys became a national political symbol, and permanently glamorized the presidency.
An example of Kennedy's inflexible set of values was his stance on communism and the "common enemies of man," as stated in his famous inaugural address.

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He declared to Americans:
In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility—I welcome it. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it—and the glow from that fire can truly light the world. And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.

Kennedy was determined to battle the spread of communism everywhere from Germany to Vietnam and to Cuba. He once argued that "those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable."
One of the failures of the Kennedy administration was the Bay of Pigs invasion, where Cuban exiles where trained by the Central Intelligence Agency to assassinate Fidel Castro. The Cuban government managed to capture or kill most of the invading exiles, and Kennedy was forced to negotiate their release in exchange for some $53 million worth of food and medicine. The mission was a failure, not to mention a political and diplomatic nightmare. Kennedy learned from his mistake however, assuming "sole responsibility" for the fiasco. He privately told his father that he would never again accept a Joint Chiefs recommendation without challenging it first.
Kennedy's domestic policy at home also revealed a man who demanded to be in control. During the early 1960's, the civil rights movement reached its peak when many Southern states failed to adhere to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision that racial segregation in public school, busses, restaurants, and other businesses would no longer be legal. In 1962, Kennedy responded to the University of Mississippi students' prevention of African American student James Meredith from enrolling by sending in four hundred federal marshals to escort him in his enrollment and some three thousand federal troops to help quell the ensuing riots.
John Kennedy's style was not simply based on hard-headed ideology and action without careful contemplation. He supplemented his goals with deliberate, calculated and often humanitarian means. In order to contain the spread of communism in Latin America for instance, he established the Alliance for Progress in 1961, which sought to foster economic cooperation between the United States and the South America with foreign aid. Kennedy's ten year program aimed to "complete the revolution of the Americas, to build a hemisphere where all men can hope for a suitable standard of living and all can live out their lives in dignity and in freedom."
John F. Kennedy was a man of action, in which all of his efforts were based on deliberate and calculated outcomes. When those consequences sometimes resulted in failure, he was quick to accept full responsibility and learn from mistakes without excusing himself. Indeed, full accountability for successes as well as failures was a hallmark of the Kennedy Administration. Undaunted by hard work and driven by optimistic goals, John F. Kennedy proved himself to be one the twentieth century's greatest Presidents of the United States.

Bibliography

• "Kennedy, John Fitzgerald," Microsoft® Encarta® 97 Encyclopedia. © 1993-1996 Microsoft Corporation.
• "Kennedy, John F." Encyclopedia Britannica
[Accessed May 5, 2002].
• Richard Reeves, "Character Above All," PBS http://www.pbs.org/newshour/character/essays/kennedy.html
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