On This Day – Birth of President John F Kennedy

Kennedy with wife Jackie Onassis and their children, John Jr and Caroline.
Kennedy with wife Jackie Onassis and their children, John Jr and Caroline.

On this day in 1917, John F Kennedy was born: the man who would go on to become the 35th President of the United States; the second-youngest man to hold the title after Theodore Roosevelt. Commonly known by his initials JFK, Kennedy saw military action in the Second World War as Commander of Motor Torpedo Boats PT-109 and PT-59, before moving into politics.

Kennedy’s reign as President has become synonymous with the Cuban Missile Crisis, which saw the world come to the brink of nuclear disaster (see our feature in Issue 3 of History of War). With a deadly impending threat from the Soviet Union and Cuba, in which missiles were stationed on Cuba ready for deployment to the United States, Kennedy decided against a military attack and instead advocated a naval blockade of Cuba. His ability to avert nuclear disaster saw his public-approval rating increase from 66 to 77 per cent.

On 22 November 1963, Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, shot in the throat, back and head. Taken to hospital, he died less than an hour later. Lee Harvey Oswald was accused of Kennedy’s murder, but his involvement has been disputed by many. There has even been speculation that the driver of Kennedy’s vehicle at the time of the assassination, was the culprit. According to a recent poll, 61 per cent of Americans believe that Kennedy was killed in a conspiracy cover-up, while¬† only 30 per cent reckon that Oswald acted alone.