6 Things You Might Not Know about John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy is a household name when you’re talking about previous American presidents. There are many reasons why his legacy has persisted in modern-day America. The specifics depend on who you ask. All the same, though, his life as president was characterized by dramatic occasions, before he was finally assassinated while riding in an open presidential limousine. Below are 6 interesting facts about John Kennedy that you might not have known.

I.                    He Had Four Children with Jackie

John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie had four children. Most Americans tend to think that President Kennedy had two children ever, Caroline and John, Jr. In 1956, Jackie gave birth to a stillborn girl that the couple decided to name Arabella. In 1963, another child, named Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, was born five and a half weeks earlier. The newborn baby weighed less than five pounds. He died after two days following a pulmonary disease. The bodies of these two children were taken to Arlington National Cemetery to be next to their father in 1963 after he was assassinated.

II.                  He Was Medically Disqualified from the Army

Just before the United States plunged into World War II, Kennedy tried to enlist in the military. His intestinal and back problems wouldn’t let him, though. He failed physical examinations for both the Navy and Army officer candidate schools. However, through his father’s connections, Kennedy was finally admitted to the Navy in 1941 (October). He was a commanding officer of PT-109, where he became a war hero after helping his team members survive the gunboat’s sinking in 1943.

III.                John F. Kennedy Won a Pulitzer Prize

Kennedy wrote his first book, titled ‘Why England Slept’, at the age of 22. In 1945, he served as a newspaper correspondent covering the UN conference in San Francisco, and the aftermath of the War in Europe. The 1957 Pulitzer Prize for biography went to Kennedy due to his work ‘Profiles in Courage’.

IV.                He Suffered from Constant Poor Health

Kennedy suffered from poor health throughout his life. In fact, this situation was so bad that he received last rites three times before his presidency started. When traveling to England in 1947, Kennedy fell ill after a diagnosis of Addison’s disease. This is a rare condition that affects the adrenal glands. Doctors gave him just a year to live. On his way back to America, Kennedy’s situation got so bad that a pastor administered last rites. This happened again in 1951 after he caught an extremely high fever on his way to Asia. In 1954, he went into a comma following a surgical procedure to relieve his back problems.

V.                  He Went to Princeton

John F. Kennedy attended Princeton – briefly. He left Princeton after just two months, due to a gastrointestinal illness. Later, he transferred to Harvard.

VI.                He Donated his Salaries

Kennedy’s congressional and presidential salary went to Charity. Of course, his father had built a family fortune, and the young Kennedy earned already earned a lot from trusts by the time he joined congress in 1947. When he was sworn into the White House, he became the richest man ever to take the oath of office.

Interesting? These are just a few of the key facts that outline the life of one of the most historical presidents in America!

5 Stunning Photos That Chronicle John Kennedy’s Presidency and Assassination

35th President of the United States

John Fitzgerald Kennedy giving the Inaugural Address, as the 35th president of the United States, in Washington, DC on 20th January 1961. He had earlier gained the Democratic Party nomination for President. Kennedy won by a small margin in the November 1960 elections, becoming the youngest man and first-ever Roman Catholic to become president of the country.

Inaugural Address of John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States. Washington, DC  20 January 1961. Please credit "U. S. Army Signal Corps photograph in the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library, Boston".
Inaugural Address of John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States. Washington, DC 20 January 1961. Please credit “U. S. Army Signal Corps photograph in the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library, Boston”.

Meeting with Martin Luther King, Civil Rights

Kennedy supported civil rights. But it was only after his death that meaningful legislation on the same was passed. In this file photo, he meets with prominent civil rights activist, including the iconic Martin Luther King, Jr.

August 1963, White House, Washington, D.C., USA --- Civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr., meet with President John F. Kennedy and Vice-President Lyndon Johnson in the Oval Office about the March on Washington. --- Image by © Flip Schulke/CORBIS
August 1963, White House, Washington, D.C., USA — Civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr., meet with President John F. Kennedy and Vice-President Lyndon Johnson in the Oval Office about the March on Washington. — Image by © Flip Schulke/CORBIS

Cuban Missile Crisis

President Kennedy personally telling the American people that soviet missile stations in Cuba were being ‘destroyed’. He said the country’s aerial surveillance team would continue till effective international inspections had been arranged.

U.S. President John F. Kennedy reports to the nation on the Cuban missile crisis from the White House in Washington, Nov. 2, 1962. The president told radio and television listeners that Soviet missile bases "are being destroyed" and that U.S. air surveillance would continue until effective international inspection was arranged. (AP Photo) ORG XMIT: NY326
U.S. President John F. Kennedy reports to the nation on the Cuban missile crisis from the White House in Washington, Nov. 2, 1962. The president told radio and television listeners that Soviet missile bases “are being destroyed” and that U.S. air surveillance would continue until effective international inspection was arranged. (AP Photo) ORG XMIT: NY326

Announcing Space Effort

On September 12, 1962. President Kennedy delivers a speech at Rice University. He detailed the nation’s objective to land a man on the moon within the decade. The president announced that he would continue supporting increased space expenditure. NASA eventually landed a man on the moon in 1969.

President John F. Kennedy Address at Rice University in Houston on the Nation's Space Effort.  Please credit "Robert Knudsen, White House/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston"
President John F. Kennedy Address at Rice University in Houston on the Nation’s Space Effort. Please credit “Robert Knudsen, White House/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston”

Assassination Day

Kennedy was riding in a 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible codenamed X-100. Following the shooting, the presidential limousine was examined for evidence of the Dallas shooting, overhauled, then cleaned and recommissioned for service in mid-1964. The limo continued to carry presidents till 1977. It’s currently on display in Dearborn, Michigan, at the Henry Ford Museum.

President Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, riding in the Lincoln Continental moments before the assassination.
President Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, riding in the Lincoln Continental moments before the assassination.

Why John F. Kennedy Wasn’t One of Our Greatest Presidents

Or was he? Depends on who you ask. Generally, though, John F. Kennedy is popularly known as one of the most charismatic presidents ever. He embodied hope, energy and promise, especially at a time when the country needed those qualities. When the name ‘John Kennedy’ fills the room, most people will think of his assassination and the major accomplishments that he made. But few people dig through the web of compliments to identify some of his greatest flows. The merits are clear, yes, but his demerits are just as outstanding. Based on information collected from various historical sources and news publishing websites, here are some of the reasons why John Kennedy probably wasn’t one of the greatest presidents this country has ever seen.

He Caused the Cuban Missile Crisis

Different historians have different opinions regarding what happened in October 1962 when the Cuban Missile Crisis almost resulted in a nuclear exchange. Basic interpretational however suggests that had the Eastern Seaboard been wiped out that year, it’d have been due to Kennedy’s fecklessness. It appears that the Soviet Union was installing missiles in Cuba as an attempt to stir another American invasion of the country. A year earlier, Kennedy had invited Cuba. But instead of seeing this the way it really was, Kennedy fumbled and mis-reacted before finally agreeing to a deal that included promising not to attack Cuba again. Kennedy simply took many actions that increased risk of war.

He Caused the Bay of Pigs Invasion

This is probably intertwined with the Cuban missile crisis. Essentially, it triggered the crisis that almost culminated in nuclear war. The Bay of Pigs Invasion led to hundreds and thousands of injuries and damaged the reputation of America worldwide. It also solidified Cuba’s firm stand as a communist state, which is only loosening nowadays following major efforts made by the Obama administration. Although this particular escalation happened when Kennedy was still very new in the oval office, it was his fault. Despite having multiple opportunities to reverse course, Kennedy went through with the plans.

He Escalated Vietnam

Many post-war revisionists have said that Kennedy somehow failed to save the nation from an escalation in Vietnam. Although there’s little material evidence on this, it seems to hold some water. His lifetime comments during the war failed to account for a North Vietnamese escalation. In 1964, his brother, Robert Kennedy, said that the president never even considered withdrawing. It’s a complicated debate, but the general line of thinking here is that it could have been done better.

He Was a Little Slow on Civil Rights

Make no mistake, John F. Kennedy made a lot happen when it comes to civil rights. But he needed a little ‘prodding’ to take action. Many have argued that he was initially a bystander, not willing to take the firm action that he later took in 963 by calling for a real Civil Rights Act. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his fellow civil rights advocates went through a lot just to make Kennedy act. At the time of his death even, Kennedy just had a small record of civil rights accomplishment. He obviously did a lot of good things, including sending troops to protect students at the universities of Alabama and Mississippi, as well as banning racial discrimination in public accommodations. The point is – he could have done a lot more!

Kennedy did a lot of great things during his tenure as president. Like most other presidents, though, he just wasn’t perfect.