John F. Kennedy: Happy birthday, Mr. President

  • U.S. President John F. Kennedy stands at the lectern behind a production slate board during a television taping at the White House. In life and especially in death, Kennedy changed television forever. July 3, 1963.
  • (L) 1927: Headshot portrait of John F. Kennedy at age ten, standing outdoors and wearing a suit with his hair slicked back, 1927. (R) WWII Portrait of John F. Kennedy, wearing his U.S. Navy uniform, 1940. 
  • Guests, including Robert Kennedy, watch as newly married John and Jackie Kennedy cut their wedding cake. 
  • Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline, ride up Broadway in a ticker-tape parade on Oct. 19, 1960.
  • George McGovern, then a congressman, joined Senator John F. Kennedy on the campaign trail in June 1960. Both went on to victory, Kennedy as president and McGovern as senator. They greeted crowd in Sioux Falls, S.D. 
  • President Kennedy signs autographs for an American flag-waving group of young school girls on the street. 
  • U.S. President John F. Kennedy, left, waves to a crowd of more than 300,000 gathered to hear his speech where he declared “Ich bin ein Berliner,” (“I am a Berliner,”) in the main square in front of Schoeneberg City Hall in West Berlin on June 26, 1963. For many reasons, the year was a turning point in a tumultuous century.
  • President Kennedy gives his inaugural address at the Capitol after taking the oath of office, Jan. 20, 1961. In the front row, from left, are, incoming Vice President Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Sen John Sparkman, and Harry Truman. 
  • Caroline Kennedy gets a piggy-back ride from her father, Sen. John F. Kennedy, in Hyannis Port, Mass. on Nov. 9, 1960. It was the first chance in weeks Kennedy has had to relax with his daughter during his presidential campaign.
  • President John F. Kennedy as he appeared on a television set in New York City on Oct. 22, 1962 informing the American people of his decision to set up a naval blockade against Cuba.
  • President John F. Kennedy and his son, John Jr. in 1963.
  • Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John F. Kennedy and wife Jacqueline in cockpit of their sailboat, Victura at Hyannis Port, Mass. on Aug. 7, 1960. The senator took advantage of ideal weather to get in some sailing before leaving for Washington.
  • Shortly after his acceptance of the Democratic Party endorsement for president, Senator John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, smile and wave from the back of a car, Mass., July 1960. 
  • The family of President John F. Kennedy vacations in this undated photo. From left: Caroline, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, John Jr. and President Kennedy. 
  • Illuminated by a spotlight, Sen. John F. Kennedy, Democratic presidential nominee, speaks to an audience in Des Moines, Ia., Aug. 21, 1960. 
  • The limousine carrying mortally wounded President John F. Kennedy races toward the hospital seconds after he was shot in Dallas, Texas on Nov. 22, 1963. Secret Service agent Clinton Hill is riding on the back of the car, Nellie Connally, wife of Texas Gov. John Connally, bends over her wounded husband, and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy leans over the president.
  • Jacqueline Kennedy kisses the casket of her husband, President John F. Kennedy, lying in state in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, accompanied by their daughter Caroline, kneeling alongside, Nov. 24, 1963. 
  • Jacqueline Kennedy has a chuck under the chin for her husband moments after he became president, Jan, 20, 1961. 

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A generation of Americans will never forget where they were on Nov. 22, 1963. On that day, President John F. Kennedy died after being fatally wounded by a sniper as his motorcade traveled through Dallas, Texas. Had his life not been tragically cut short, Kennedy would have turned 98 today.

Nearly a year after the president was shot, the Warren Commission concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald was Kennedy’s lone assassin. 

Kennedy, the nation’s first and only Catholic president, is remembered as a guiding light for America through the difficult Cold War, and he is particularly credited for bringing an end to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Kennedy also challenged America to lead the world in the exploration of what was then the next great frontier — outer space — and he saw America become the first country to put a man on the moon.

He also left a legacy through his humanitarian efforts, having laid down the foundation for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and started the Peace Corps. “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” Kennedy said in his first speech as president on Jan. 20, 1961.

Kennedy’s pioneering spirit lives on today. Annually, the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award is given out to officials who exhibit the politically courageous leadership the president described in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Profiles in Courage.”

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