Friday, December 26, 2008

JOHN F. KENNEDY, 35TH PRESIDENT - Sworn in as the 35th President on January 20, 1961, Kennedy was the first Catholic-American to be elected President. His was the first inauguration to be broadcast on color television. His was also the first inauguration to have a poet read a poem, and was the coldest of all inaugurations, with army flame throwers having to be used to clear the route of the inaugural parade. Along with his wife, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, he brought a youthfulness, optimism and sophistication to the presidency and the White House. He inherited plans for the invasion of Cuba which resulted in the failed Bay of Pigs incident. Accepting full responsibility for the failure, the public excused the incident. During the subsequent Cuban Missle crisis, President Kennedy is credited with showing more restraint and judgment than his aides who recommended a military attack on Cuba, and thus averting a nuclear war. Only after the collapse of the Soviet Union have documents come to light revealing how close we were to experiencing a nuclear war. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment, however, were his proposed social reforms, including the introduction of the Civil Rights Act. Unfortunately, he was assassinated in Dallas by Lee Harvey Oswald before his legislative agenda could be enacted, with the Civil Rights Act and bills passed only later after his death. Despite the short term of his presidency due to him being assassinated, in public opinion polls he is often ranked as our greatest President. One of his best known accomplishments was the creation of the Peace Corps. In the 2008 presidential election, his daughter, Caroline Kennedy, was one of the leading supporters of the presidency of Barack Obama. If you are visiting Washington, D.C., be sure the visit the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts which is named in his honor, and which is the jewel of cultural activities for the nation's capitol.