Remembering JFK

From the desk of Jan Hommel, American Freedom Museum Director:

John F. Kennedy
35th President of the United States
January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963

“With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own….And so, my fellow American’s – ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

Interesting Facts About John F. Kennedy and His Assassination:

• John F. Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts on May 29th, 1917 and came from a very wealthy family. He spent his middle school years in the Bronx area until his family sent him to a private school in Connecticut. His father worked as an ambassador of England. Kennedy passed away before his parents died.

• He was the second oldest child and had 5 sisters and 3 brothers. He had an older brother who died in WWII and a sister who was a special needs child. His younger brother Robert was assassinated in June of 1968.

• His favorite sports were golf, football, swimming, sailing, tennis, and checkers – which his brother Ted said he played with reckless joy.

• He served in the US Navy in WWII and was blown up while on duty on PT boat 109. He was the only President to be awarded a Purple Heart. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his biography, “Profiles in Courage”, in 1956.

• He married his wife, Jackie Onassis, in 1953 and they had 3 children, Caroline, John and Patrick. Patrick was born premature while Kennedy was in office, and died 2 days after he was born. John was killed in an airplane crash 15 years ago.

• At 46 years of age, JFK was the second youngest (Theodore Roosevelt was 9 months younger) of the United States at his inauguration. He won the election by only 120,000 votes out of 70 million cast in one of the closest elections in history. He is the only Catholic to ever hold the office of President of the United States.

• He was a speed reader, reading 1,200 words per minute. He kept the White House pool at 90 degrees while he was President and he was a massive fan of James Bond.

• JFK was a president who is remembered for many turning points in the 20th century, such as the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban missile crises, the space race and the civil rights movement, but he is most famously remembered not for his life, but in the manner in which it ended.

• This month marks 50 years since his assassination in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. There are hundreds of conspiracy theories about who was behind the assassination and whether there was a lone gunmen or if there was another shooter on the infamous grassy knoll.

• On November 11, 1963, President Kennedy laid a Veteran’s Day wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery and he was buried at the same cemetery two weeks later.

• Lee Harvey Oswald wasn’t arrested for killing JFK, he was actually arrested for fatally shooting a police officer, 45 minutes after killing Kennedy. While he was being transferred to a county jail 2 days later, he was shot and killed by Dallas nightclub operator Jack Ruby.

• Assassinating the president wasn’t a federal crime in 1963 and didn’t become a federal offense until 1965. Television networks suspended shows for four days following Kennedy’s assassination.

• Jacqueline Kennedy rarely traveled with her husband on political trips but decided to fly with him to Dallas. The presidential open-top limousine had been flown in from D.C.

• This was the fourth presidential assassination in a nation that was less than 200 years old and it was the first since the Secret Service began protecting presidents.

• Lyndon B. Johnson took the oath of office aboard Air Force One and became President of the United States 99 minutes after Kennedy’s death. Federal Judge Sarah Hughes administered the oath and it was the first and only time a woman has sworn in a U.S. President.