John Fitzgerlad Kennedy

35th President of the United States

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Who is John Fitzgerald Kennedy?

John F. Kennedy was an American politician who served as the 35th President of the United States (1961-1963), the youngest man elected to the office. On November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, becoming also the youngest President of the United States to die.


Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts on May 26, 1917. Graduating from Harvard in 1940, he entered the Navy. In 1943, his PT boat was sunken by a Japanese destroyer. Although injured, he led the survivors to safety.


After the war, Kennedy became a Democratic Congressman from the Boston area, later advancing to the Senate in 1953. Later that year, he married a women named Jacqueline Bouvier. In 1955, while recuperating from a back operation, he wrote profiles in courage which won the Pulitzer Prize in History.


The following year, Kennedy almost gained the Democratic nomination for Vice-President, and four years later was a first-ballot nominee for President. Winning by a narrow margin in the popular vote, Kennedy became the first Roman Catholic President of the United States.

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How Did John F. Kennedy Show Leadership?

First, John F. Kennedy had strong leadership skills. He was a highly respected lieutenant in the Navy. John F. Kennedy led his troops into battle and brought them out safely. He had the ability to make tough decisions in difficult situations. He showed leadership through his job as a senator from Massachusetts. He helped draft many policies for the Democratic Party. Finally, John F. Kennedy led the people of America as their 35th president. He successfully ended the Cuban Missile Crisis by placing a naval blockade around Cuba in 1962. JFK’s leadership ability gave Americans a sense of security and the knowledge that their leader could protect the country.


To be a good leader, you also need to be brave because you have to be able to make decisions that may affect millions of people’s lives. The second quality that John F. Kennedy had was bravery. He was brave when he went back into a sinking ship to rescue three of his boatmates in World War II. That meant that he was not only brave, but he valued human life, putting his own safety second to the lives of others. He went back inside the ship to save soldiers he probably didn’t even know. The next example of bravery is when JFK stood his ground when Cuba threatened to fire missiles at the United States. He set up the naval blockade that deterred Cuba from launching their missiles. The last example of bravery that John F. Kennedy showed was when he rode in Dallas, Texas without the suggested bullet proof glass on his car. He rode in a convertible with the top down so that spectators could see him.


JFK on Civil Rights

Lead From the Front - But Don't Leave Your Base Behind

These famous words, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” showed leadership. With those words, President Kennedy inspired a nation. Leading is less about analytics and decisions, more about aligning, motivating and empowering others. Kennedy launched his short Presidency and motivated a nation to move purposefully forward with a focus on tomorrow.

lead from the back - and let others believe they are in front

Kennedy was good at listening to what the people wanted. This let others voice their opinion, and made them feel important. Listening as a leader involves observing with one’s eyes and ears, picking up tone, nuance and body language.

By listening to the nation, President Kennedy took action and was instrumental in making the Civil Rights movement a reality. In office, he appointed an unprecedented number of African Americans to high-level positions, strengthened the Civil Rights Commission, spoke out in favor of school desegregation, praised a number of cities for integrating their schools, and had a President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity.

-Terrell Gunn