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John Fitzgerald Kennedy

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Growing up

He was born May 29, 1917 and was named John Fitzgerald Kennedy. He had a safe and secured childhood. His mothers name was Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy and his father was Joseph Patrick Kennedy. They had nine children and John (called Jack) was the second eldest. He was very sick when he was a child. He had "whooping cough, measles, chicken pox". On February 20, 1920 when Jack was three years old he suffered from scarlet fever, a highly contagious and potentially life- threatening disease. About a month later he recovered, but never became very healthy. His family used to joke about the great risk that a mosquito took in biting him. With some of his blood the mosquito was almost sure to die.

In the summer the Kennedy children went to their summer home in Hyannis Port on Cape Cod where they enjoyed several acts of sports. He and his elder brother competed very often, but because Joe was the elder one, Jack would usually get the worst of it.

Jack was a very popular boy and had many friends at Choate, a boarding school for adolescent boys in Connecticut. His friend Lem Billings remembers how unusual it was that Jack had a daily subscription to the New York Times newspaper. Jack had "a clever, individualist mind", his Head Master once noted, though he was not the best student. Jack graduated from Choate and in 1936 he started his first year at Harvard, where Joe was already a student. Like his brother Joe, Jack played football. He was not as good of an athlete as Joe but he had a lot of determination and perseverance. Unfortunately, one day while playing he ruptured a disk in his spine. Jack never really recovered from this accident and his back continued to bother him for the rest of his life.

Late in 1937, Mr. Kennedy was appointed United States Ambassador to England and moved there with the whole family, with the exception of Joe and Jack. After his summer holiday in England Jack became very interested in European politics and world affairs. Adolph Hitler ruled Germany and Benito Mussolini ruled Italy. They both had strong armies and wanted to take land from other countries. On September 1, 1939 Germany invaded Poland and World War II began.

By this time Jack was senior at Harvard and decided to write his thesis on the reason why Great Britain was unprepared for war with Germany. It was so good that it was later published as a book called "Why England Slept". In June 1940 Jack graduated from Harvard. His father sent him a cablegram from London: TWOTHINGSIALWAYSKNEWABOUTYOUONETHATYOU ARESMARTTWOTHATYOUAREASWELLGUYLOVEDAD.

Kennedy in the Navy

In 1941 Kennedy joined the United States Navy. So did his brother Joe, who was made a flyer in Europe, but unfortunately he was killed.

Kennedy was made a Lieutenant (Lt.) and assigned to the South Pacific as commander of a patrol torpedo boat, the PT-109. Lt. Kennedy had a crew of twelve men whose mission was to stop the enemy Japanese ships from delivering supplies to their soldiers. On the dark night of August 2, 1943 Lt. Kennedy's crew patrolled the waters looking for enemy ships to sink. A Japanese destroyer suddenly became visible. But it was travelling at full speed and headed straight at them. Holding the wheel, Lt. Kennedy tried to swerve out of the way, but no avail. The much larger Japanese warship rammed the PT-109, splitting it in half and killing two of Lt. Kennedy's men. The others managed to jump off as their boat went up in flames. Lt. Kennedy was slammed hard against the cockpit, once again injuring his weak back. Patrick McMahon, one of his crewmembers, had horrible burns on his face and hands and was ready to give up. In the darkness Lt. Kennedy managed to find him and haul him back to where the other survivors were clinging to a piece of the boat that was still afloat. Patrick made alive.

When he returned home, Kennedy was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his leadership and courage. With the war finally coming to an end, it was time to choose what kind of work he wanted to do. Joseph Kennedy convinced him that he should make his family proud and run for a seat in Massachusetts' eleventh congressional district, which he won in 1946. This was the beginning of Kennedy's political career. As the years went on, John F. 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 1956 he was almost picked to run for Vice President. Having been defeated, Kennedy decided that he would run for President in the next election. He began working very long hours and travelling all around the United States on Weekends.

Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy

In 1953 at Newport, John Fitzgerald Kennedy married Jacqueline Lee Bouvier. The wedding attracted nationwide publicity. Jacqueline (Jackie) was daughter of John Vernon Bouvier III and his wife, Janet Lee.

Jackie learned to ride almost as soon as she could walk. She was educated in the best schools, she wrote poems and stories, drew illustrations for them, and studied ballet. Her mother, who had obtained a divorce, married Hugh D. Auchincloss in 1942 and brought her two girls to "Merrywood," his home near Washington, D.C., with summers spent at the estate in Newport. In Washington she took a job as "inquiring photographer" for her local newspaper. Her path soon crossed Senator Kennedy who had the reputation of being the most eligible bachelor in the capital. Their romance progressed slowly and privately. So they married.

With marriage Jackie had to adapt herself to the new role of wife to one of the country's most energetic political figures. Her own public appearances were highly successful, but limited in number. After the sadness of a of a miscarriage and the stillbirth of a daughter, Caroline Bouvier was born in 1957, John Jr. was born between the election of 1960 and Inauguration Day. Patrick Bouvier, born prematurely on August 7, 1963, died two days later.

Jackie brought beauty, intelligence, and cultivated taste to the White House. She devoted much time and study to making the White House a museum of American history and decorative arts as well as a family residence of elegance



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