John F. Kennedy: 35th President: Earned the Purple Heart

Updated on December 13, 2019
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Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past—or else be destined to repeat it.

Official White House Photo


His Family and His Rise in Politics

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was the youngest man to be elected President. He was born of Irish descent to Joseph P. Kennedy in Brookline Massachusetts on May 29,1917. His father was not only an ambassador to Great Britain but a multi-millionaire.

Kennedy's father wanted to make sure all nine of his children were competitive in sports and persuasive in debating. John, often called Jack, was the second oldest and proved to be successful in both areas while in school. He graduated high school from a private school then later graduated from Harvard University in 1940. After graduation, he joined the Navy.

In 1943, during World War II, a Japanese destroyer rammed and sunk the PT boat he was on. He was injured quite badly but still managed to lead the survivors to safety. It was during this war that his brother was killed while flying over Belgium.

When the war ended, he joined politics. He first became a Democratic Congressman, then in 1953 was elected into the Senate. That same year he married his wife Jacqueline Lee Bouvier. They had three children together and had met a friend's dinner party. She would become a very predominant person during his presidency.

Due to having hurt his back during the war, he needed to have back surgery in 1955. While recovering, he wrote Profiles in Courage, which would win him a Pulitzer Prize.

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How Old Was JFK When He Became President?

JFK was the youngest man ever to be elected president at 43 years old when he became our 35th president of the United States.

In 1960 This charismatic man won many over and was nominated as the Democratic representative for President, where he ran against Richard Nixon. They were the first two candidates to have a debate on television; millions watched. He won by a narrow margin, making him the first Roman Catholic President.

During his Inaugural Address, he gave one of the most famous speeches, "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."

While in office, he backed the Peace Corp, encouraged the arts through concerts, and sponsored the space project to have a man step foot on the moon. He felt that equal rights were a priority. He called for new civil rights legislation and was dedicated to human rights.

What Did John F. Kennedy Accomplish as President?

Soon after being elected, JFK attempted to overthrow Fidel Castro by permitting a band of Cuban exiles to invade. Despite being well-armed and trained, they did not succeed.

The Soviet Union soon renewed its campaign against West Berlin. Kennedy responded by increasing Berlin's military strength. After the Berlin Wall was built, Moscow relaxed towards Europe, but instead, they sought to install nuclear missiles in Cuba.

In October of 1962, the United States became aware of this. Immediately Kennedy took action against Russia, requesting a naval blockade in Cuba and imposing a quarantine against all weapons heading there. Thirteen days later, the Russians removed the missiles.

Kennedy persuaded the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and the United States to sign the Test Ban Treaty of 1963, which prohibited nuclear testing on Earth to protect the atmosphere and in hopes of keeping the peace, which would be the last significant thing he did in office.

JFK's Assassination

Six weeks later, the President toured Texas giving speeches throughout. While in Dallas on November 22, 1963, JFK was shot while riding in a motorcade by an assassin hidden in a building nearby. Since the gunshot was in his head, he died only minutes later. He barely was in office for one thousand days. He remains the youngest President to die while in office, at the age of 46.

Fun Facts

  • Due to being ill as a child, including having Addison's disease. He received last rights four times, the last time was the day of his assassination.
  • He is the only President to have received a purple heart. when he was wounded on August 22, 1943.
  • He received a Pulitzer Prize for writing his book, Profiles in Courage.
  • Two of his children died in infancy. One was born stillborn and the other died two days after birth due to being born five weeks premature.
  • Larry King accidentally hit him in a car accident.
  • He donated his entire Presidential salary to charity.

JFK being Awarded the Navy Marine Corps Medal

Lieutenant. John F. Kennedy, USNR, is awarded the Navy and Marine Corps medal for "...extremely heroic conduct as Commanding Officer of Motor Torpedo Boat 109...". He rescued a crew of PT 109 during WWII on 8-2-43, when hit by a Japanese destroyer.
Lieutenant. John F. Kennedy, USNR, is awarded the Navy and Marine Corps medal for "...extremely heroic conduct as Commanding Officer of Motor Torpedo Boat 109...". He rescued a crew of PT 109 during WWII on 8-2-43, when hit by a Japanese destroyer. | Source

Basic Facts

May 29, 1917 - Massachusettes
President Number
Military Service
United States Navy (Lieutenant)
Wars Served
World War II Solomon Islands campaign
Age at Beginning of Presidency
43 years old
Term of Office
January 20, 1961 - November 22, 1963
How Long President
2 years 11 months
Lyndon B Johnson
Age and Year of Death
November 22, 1963 (aged 46)
Cause of Death
gun shot

Excerpt from the History Channel

List of the United States Presidents

1. George Washington
15. James Buchanan
31. Herbert Hoover
2. John Adams
16. Abraham Lincoln
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
3. Thomas Jefferson
17. Andrew Johnson
33. Harry S. Truman
4. James Madison
19. Rutherford B. Hayes
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
5. James Monroe
20. James Garfield
35. John F. Kennedy
6. John Quincy Adams
21. Chester A. Arthur
36. Lyndon B Johnson
7. Andrew Jackson
22. Grover Cleveland
37. Richard M. Nixon
8. Martin Van Buren
23. Benjamin Harrison
38. Gerald R. Ford
9. William Henry Harrison
24. Grover Cleveland
39. James Carter
10. John Tyler
25. William McKinley
40. Ronald Reagan
11. James K. Polk
26. Theodore Roosevelt
41. George H. W. Bush
12. Zachary Taylor
27. William Howard Taft
42. William J. Clinton
13. Millard Fillmore
28. Woodrow Wilson
43. George W. Bush
14. Franklin Pierce
29. Warren G. Harding
44. Barack Obama
15. James Buchanan
30. Calvin Coolidge
45. Donald Trump

JFK and Family

President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and their children John, Jr. and Caroline, at their summer house in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. August 4, 1962
President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and their children John, Jr. and Caroline, at their summer house in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. August 4, 1962 | Source


  • "25 Fascinating Facts About John F. Kennedy." Mental Floss. May 29, 2017. Accessed October 22, 2017.
  • Freidel, F., & Sidey, H. (2009). John F. Kennedy. Retrieved April 22, 2016, from
  • Sullivan, George. Mr. President: A Book of U.S. Presidents. New York: Scholastic, 2001. Print.

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Angela Michelle Schultz


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      • Sharlee01 profile image


        2 years ago

        Enjoyed the read... Nice work

      • k@ri profile image

        Kari Poulsen 

        2 years ago from Ohio

        It is such a shame that he was killed. I never knew he had Addison's disease.


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