John F. Kennedy
May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963
John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born to an influential and wealthy family. He endured many sicknesses during his childhood, but was able to participate in the Boy Scouts and do well at school. In the second half of the 1930s Kennedy spent time in Europe before being sent home by his father at the beginning of World War II.
In 1941 he joined the Navy after his father asked them to ignore his back problems. After the attack on Pearl Harbor Kennedy became captain of a patrol torpedo boat and was sent into the Pacific. While on patrol his boat was rammed by a Japanese boat and sunk. He re-injured his back but still managed to swim a burned crew member to safety. He swam for four hours before reaching an island. He then continued swimming during attempts to find friendly boats. For this he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal.
After the war Kennedy entered into a political life, becoming a Senator. In 1960 he declared an intent to run for President. In the first televised debate between presidential candidates, Kennedy showed he understood the medium by beating Nixon due in part to his polished appearance. His Catholicism caused concern in the voting public, but he was elected in one of the closest elections in history.
Among Kennedy’s accomplishments in office was the formation of the Peace Corps which sent Americans around the world to volunteer their help. This was a good example of his attention to the importance of human rights, poverty, education, and global harmony. He ordered a troop reduction in Vietnam, banned most nuclear testing, preached the value of freedom in contrast to communism, fought for civil rights in America, and money for education and health care.
On November 22, 1963 Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.