The Assassination of John F. Kennedy
James L. Swanson
Copyright 2013 by James L. Swanson
“He almost died, but he struggled to live, and survived. For the rest of his life, he suffered from terrible pain…”
I never really imagine my life as rough or cruel. I feel others always have harder times, but I never imagine some difficulties that John F. Kennedy goes through. This quotation from The Assassination of John F. Kennedy is an interesting one that ties in well with the entire first half of the book. He truly amazes me with the many courageous acts he does and what he has to struggle with through in his life. Kennedy suffers his whole life, but with his high knowledge and great faith as a Catholic man, he has many advantages as well.
One of Kennedy’s major struggles that helps him win his presidential election occurs before he’s even involved in politics. Over ten years before his election, Kennedy is in the war fighting against the Japanese as a navy lieutenant. While out at sea, Kennedy and his men are on a ship that gets split in half from a Japanese torpedo. Two die, and the others including Kennedy are injured. In my opinion, the amazing factor is this: While Kennedy was hurt, he ends up bringing another man out of the water with a string connected from the man’s life jacket to his teeth. Kennedy swims the man for four miles until land, then he and his men end up finding Indians that save them. Kennedy truly shows courage that I could never show, especially with the injuries he has.
In 1952, Kennedy starts at the House of Representatives and works his way up to the Senate. In 1960, Kennedy gets elected president in a very close election with Richard Nixon. Nixon served as Vice President for seven years, so many think he is going to be the next president. Also, Kennedy has the disadvantage with his inexperience at the vice president or president position. Another downfall to Kennedy attempting to move from the Senate to president is that he is considered to some as a rich man that only cares about his money. Kennedy’s sure to prove people different and his story about swimming miles and for hours to save his men is one that truly amazes me.
Kennedy and Nixon do have two major similarities: Both want to end the danger of Communism and of the Soviet Union. In his inauguration, Kennedy makes people want to stand up to freedom in the Cold War. The president then authorizes the Bay of Pigs which involves armed exiles landing in Cuba. The CIA pressures the president to authorize this, and he does mistakingly. I’m surprised in the president to authorizing this, but he is inexperienced at the time. Cuba is ready with soldiers and the fight ends up being an embarrassing defeat. This is another struggle the president goes through, and I’m amazed that he continues to persevere and learns from his mistakes. The president learns that he did not send enough soldiers to Cuba, so he entices more young Americans to go to Vietnam and end Communism. The president wants our country to have authority, so he has Congress raise the budget and give the military more money. With these struggles already in the Kennedy’s hands, a war appears to soon break out so the president makes a deal with the Soviet Union’s prime minister. Kennedy promises to keep missiles from Turkey and the Soviet Union promises to keep missiles out of Cuba. I feel this is an extremely brave action by Kennedy, and this saves many who most likely would have died from a war.
Kennedy then faces issues involving nuclear bomb testing, so he bans that. After doing so, Kennedy realizes the issues of civil rights. The president is not necessarily against giving black people rights, but he does not straight out prove that he is for giving them rights because that would stir up much controversy and people may take his comments wrong. Kennedy then lets Dr. Martin Luther King give his “I Have a Dream” speech, and during this, Kennedy feels a change is developing. I feel this is a very courageous action to let King do this, and the president also chooses his words wisely. Kennedy then flew to Texas, which was risky because many saw him as either too soft on Communism or too strong on civil rights.
With the many issues Kennedy faces before and during his presidency, he proves to be a good fit for America. With issues ranging from the Soviet Union to civil rights, I feel Kennedy proved he can survive harsh criticism and the struggles. I think the president is a courageous young man who can overcome anything that steps in his path. I’m assuming the rest of the book will talk about his assassination and what all happened during the process. The quotation at the beginning is very ironic, but not in a good way. He suffers with many obstacles during and before his presidency and survives for a great time, but then surviving becomes an issue a few years into his presidency while in Dallas, Texas.