This website on John F. Kennedy has been written moslty the latter half of 2010 and updated in 2017. A portion of the materials presented here appeared as part of our multimedia CD biography of JFK, which was created twenty years ago. A review of the original materials made it clear that much of the information required updating. Much has happened in these past two decades. Many documents have been declassified over time, bringing new facts to light. All has served to put John F. Kennedy 's presidency into a new and more complex perspective. While President Kennedy has always held a special place in the hearts of many Americans, there are those who believe his Presidency has been overrated. They opined that not much could possibly have been accomplished in such a short time. Was not the outpouring of love for this fallen leader the result of just that: a nostalgic love for a President stolen from the nation when he was young rather than admiration born of respect for the late President's accomplishments?
After scrutinizing the Kennedy Presidency, reviewing the documents, examining the images and re-examining the video clips, I have come to a very different conclusion regarding JFK 's contributions to this nation. I believe that John F. Kennedy was the best President of the second half of the twentieth century. Furthermore, I contend that no President since has embodied Kennedy 's exceptional combination of the skills needed to serve as President.
President Kennedy was uniquely prepared for the Presidency. His youth and good looks have often been mistaken for shallowness. This was then, and remains now, a false contention. During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Obama supporters rebutted criticism for the candidate's quite obvious lack of experience with the oft-stated refrain: "But look at President Kennedy, he was young and inexperienced, as well. " I respectfully beg to differ. President Obama cannot be compared to President Kennedy. Though JFK was young, his experiences did, indeed, prepare to become President.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy benefited from a set of circumstances that would serve him well in his quest for the Presidency. He was the son of a very wealthy and politically-connected Father. Young Kennedy went to all the "right' schools. He enjoyed the comfort his family 's money brought him. His was not, however, the young adulthood of the average indolent son of wealthy parents. Circumstances conspired to give young John some very distinctive perspectives on the world around him. First, although he came from wealth, Kennedy was a Catholic. To be a Catholic in the first half of the century meant being an outsider. Second, Kennedy 's Harvard education coincided with the time when the world began its inexorable journey toward World War II. His father was the United States Ambassador to the Court of Saint James, a circumstance that gave Kennedy the opportunity to travel extensively through Europe during the months leading up to the outbreak of the War. His experiences during those months, and in the period following, prompted him to produce a Harvard senior thesis that would become a best-selling book. Then, as the US edged closer to war, Kennedy volunteered for service with the Navy. Though he was initially given a cushy intelligence job in Washington DC, he volunteered for one of the most dangerous of naval assignments, commanding a PT boat. Using his formidable family connections, Kennedy got himself transferred to the most dangerous of naval warfare theaters: the Pacific. There, his PT boat was sunk by the Japanese. Kennedy became a national hero, for orchestrating the rescue of his crew.
Later, Kennedy would spend six years serving as a Congressman, followed by eight years as Senator, before making his run for the Presidency. His 12 years in Congress did not make Kennedy a creature of Congress -- just the opposite. Kennedy recognized the inherent weaknesses of the Congress. He believed that only a strong executive could take the actions required for the US to meet the challenges it faced. As President, Kennedy displayed great strength. While he certainly made mistakes, he learned from them and became a better President as a result. Kennedy 's greatest moment as President was his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis. His actions, both large and small, proved JFK to be a President completely in control and keenly aware of what he could and could not accomplish.
President Kennedy led a remarkable life. He was President during extraordinary time. What he might have accomplished as President, had he not been assassinated, will forever remain one of history 's great unknowns. Learn more about the many aspects of Kennedy 's life and his Presidency in the sections ahead.