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Politics

How We Remember Jack

November 16, 2013

As we approach the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination, here is a look back at 10 iconic facets of the 35th president. Even today, the public continues to piece together the mystique of a leader gone too soon.

Lt. Kennedy aboard the PT-109. (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum/Flickr)

THE WAR HERO During his World War II naval service, Kennedy was presented with the Purple Heart and the Navy Marine Corps Medal in honor of his heroics in the rescue of his PT-109 crew after the torpedo boat was struck by a Japanese destroyer.

JFK leaving the Saint Stephen Martyr Catholic Church in Washington after Mass. (AFP/Getty Images)

THE UNLIKELY CANDIDATE Kennedy broke the mold as the youngest man elected president—and the first Catholic.

Caroline Kennedy kisses her father who was then a U.S. Senator of Massachusetts. (AFP/Getty Images)(AFP/Getty Images)

THE FAMILY MAN In 1953, John married Jacqueline Bouvier. They had two children—Caroline and John Jr. A third child, Patrick, passed away just two days after his birth. Today, Caroline is the only immediate family member who survives the late president.

 

(John F. Kennedy Presidential Library)

THE PHILANDERER Despite reports of extramarital affairs that circulated after his death, the negative press has hardly seemed to cloud Kennedy's respected image. To this day, the late president maintains famously high public-opinion ratings.

Delivering a speech on the topic of the Peace Corps to students at the University of Michigan Union. (University of Michigan/Flickr)

ON THE HOME FRONT While in office, Kennedy created the Peace Corps, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, the Alliance for Progress, and the Navy SEALs, and he propelled the U.S. into the space race. The promise he made in a 1961 speech that the U.S. would put a man on the moon "before this decade is out" was ultimately fulfilled.

In the oval room of the White House, President John Kennedy greets the leaders of the civil rights groups represented (from left to right) Willard Wirtz, Floyd McKissick, Matthew Arnan, Whitney Young, Reverend Martin Luther King, John Lewis, Rabbi Joachim Prinz, Eugene Carson Blake and Philip Randolph on August 29, 1963.(AFP/Getty Images)

THE CIVIL-RIGHTS CHAMPION Regarded as an opponent of segregation and supporter of civil rights for African-Americans, Kennedy became the first president to call on all Americans to denounce racism as morally wrong. Motivated by demonstrations by Martin Luther King Jr., Kennedy's civil-rights proposals set the stage for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

 

President Kennedy signs the Foreign Assistance Act. (USAID Guatemala/Flickr)

THE DIPLOMAT His foreign policy record lists both successes—such as the peaceful resolution to the Cuban missile crisis—and missteps, including the Bay of Pigs invasion and escalation of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

Getty Images

VISAGE OF VIGOR Although initially unknow to the general public and concealed well by his charismatic nature, Kennedy suffered a number of health issues, including Addison's disease and chronic back pain.

U.S. President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline, shortly before his assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.(OFF/AFP/Getty Images)

THE PROGRESSIVE MARTYR Kennedy's early death framed him as a martyr for civil rights and other liberal ideologies.

 

AFP/Getty Images

GONE TOO SOON Kennedy's assassination on Nov. 22, 1963, received heavy coverage via major news networks—a milestone in the new age of televised news.

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