|2401 JFK and Jackie... summer of '60|
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy, commonly known as JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, and certainly one of the most important and loved. The Cuban Missile Crisis, The Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the establishment of the Peace Corps, developments in the Space Race, the building of the Berlin Wall, the Civil Rights Movement, and abolition of the federal death penalty in the District of Columbia all took place during his presidency. He also avoided any significant increase in the American presence in Vietnam.
JFK was born in Brookline (Massachusetts) on May 29, 1917, as one of the nine children of businessman/politician Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy, Sr. and philanthropist/socialite Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald-Kennedy. Both the Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys were wealthy and prominent Irish Catholic Boston families. John F. Kennedy, nicknamed "Jack," was the second oldest of a group of nine extraordinary siblings, who remained close-knit and supportive of each other throughout their entire lives.
At school, although he was obviously brilliant - evidenced by the extraordinary thoughtfulness and nuance of his work on the rare occasions when he applied himself - Kennedy remained at best a mediocre student, preferring sports, girls and practical jokes to coursework. He was also chronically ill during his childhood and adolescence; he suffered from severe colds, the flu, scarlet fever and even more severe, undiagnosed diseases that forced him to miss months of school at a time and occasionally brought him to the brink of death.
After graduating from Harvard, he joined the U.S. Navy and was assigned to command a patrol torpedo boat in the South Pacific. On August 2, 1943, his boat was rammed by a Japanese warship and split in two. Two sailors died and Kennedy badly injured his back. Hauling another wounded sailor by the strap of his life vest, Kennedy led the survivors to a nearby island, where they were rescued six days later. The incident earned him the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for "extremely heroic conduct" and a Purple Heart for the injuries he suffered.
At the age of 29, he decided to run for the U.S. House of Representatives. He won the election in 1946, and served as a congressman for six years. In 1952, shortly after he won a seat in Senat, Kennedy met Jacqueline Bouvier (born 1929). They were married on September 12, 1953, and had three children: Caroline Kennedy, John F. Kennedy Jr. and Patrick Kennedy. In 1957 he won Pulitzer Prize for biography, with Profiles in Courage, a book comprising the profiles of eight senators who had taken courageous but unpopular stances.
In 1960 Kennedy decided to run for president, and defeated Richard Nixon by a razor-thin margin. The greatest accomplishments during his brief tenure as president came in the arena of foreign affairs. His record on domestic policy was rather mixed. He was assassinated in Dallas (Texas) on November 22, 1963, while on a political trip to Texas to smooth over frictions in the Democratic Party between two liberals and a conservative. The circumstances of his assassination have never been fully elucidated.
Kennedy and his wife were younger in comparison to the presidents and first ladies who preceded them, and both were popular in the media culture in ways more common to pop singers and movie stars than politicians, influencing fashion trends and becoming the subjects of numerous photo spreads in popular magazines. Mrs. Kennedy, nicknamed Jackie, brought new art and furniture to the White House, and directed its restoration.
They invited a range of artists, writers and intellectuals to rounds of White House dinners, raising the profile of the arts in America. The president was closely tied to popular culture, emphasized by songs such as "Twisting at the White House". Among the First Ladies of the United States, Jacqueline Kennedy remains one of the most popular. She was featured on the annual Gallop list of the top 10 most admired people of the second half of the 20th century 27 times, a number superseded by only Billy Graham and Queen Elizabeth II and higher than that of any U.S. President.
About the stamps
About the first stamp, featuring a portrait of George Washington, I wrote here. The second is one of Wedding series, about which I wrote here. The last stamp is part of the series Harry Potter, about which I wrote here.
Sent from Greenvale (New York / United States), on 13.01.2014
Photo: Frank Fallaci