John F. Kennedy was the 35th president of the United States (1961-1963). He was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, on May 29, 1917,the second oldest in a family of nine children, the son of financier Joseph P. Kennedy, who served as ambassador to Great Britain during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. He graduated from Harvard University in 1940. In 1941, John Kennedy joined the Navy. He became the commander of a small boat assigned to the battle in the Pacific against the Japanese. After World War II he soon decided to run for political office. In 1946, he was elected to the U.S. Congress, Kennedy, a Democrat, served three terms (six years) in the House of Representatives, and in 1952 he was elected to the U.S. Senate.In 1953, he married Jacqueline Lee Bouvier. In the general election on November 8, 1960, Kennedy defeated Vice President Richard M. Nixon, in a very close race. Kennedy was the youngest man elected President and the first Catholic. Just after the election, the Kennedy’s second child, John Jr., was born. Kennedy wanted Americans to travel to a more distant destination. In May 1961, after Alan Shepard became the first American astronaut to fly into space, Kennedy asked Congress to spend more money on space exploration, with the goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the decade. In 1963, clashes between the police and demonstrating blacks in Birmingham, Ala., and elsewhere, especially in the South, induced the president to stress civil rights legislation. Kennedy’s new civil rights message included bills to ban discrimination in places of business; to speed up desegregation of public schools; and to end discrimination in the hiring of workers on federal construction projects. On Nov. 22, 1963, Kennedy was shot to death in Dallas, Texas, the fourth United States president to die by an assassin’s bullet. The state funeral of President Kennedy was watched on television by millions around the world. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. During his time as President, JFK had to make difficult decisions. Many of the hardest choices concerned the relationship between our nation and the Soviet Union.President Kennedy’s death caused enormous sadness and grief among all Americans. Most people still remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news of the murder. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Washington for the President’s funeral, and millions throughout the world watched it on television.As the years have gone by and other Presidents have written their chapters in history, John Kennedy’s brief time in office stands out in people’s memories–for his leadership, personality, and accomplishments. Many respect his coolness when faced with difficult decisions–like what to do about the missiles in Cuba. Others admire his ability to inspire people with his eloquent speeches. Still others think his compassion and his willingness to fight for new government programs to help the poor, the elderly and the ill were most important. Like all leaders, John Kennedy made mistakes, but he was always optimistic about the future. He believed that people could solve their common problems if they put their country’s interests first and worked together.
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