The 347 on JFK’s 100th Birthday
No man has lived a 46-year life more intriguing than John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The reasons why have been studied since November 22, 1963. I’ll offer my own……..
JFK’s appeal was built on his youth. The median age of America in 1961 was 29.5. JFK was 43. Jackie was 31. That the first couple was closer in age to the average American made them more relatable than someone like Dwight Eisenhower.
He also had courage. JFK lived in agony his whole life. He was the most crippled man in the White House since FDR, with a laundry list of ailments like Addison’s disease, which meant he could not produce adrenaline, and back-pain. The strong medications he took worsened his health problems. His back pain was also worsened by his efforts to save his PT-109 crewmen during World War II. Looking at that, his ability to function as President is miraculous.
His inaugural address was the greatest call to action in American history. Not only did he call for his fellow citizens to find what they could do for their country, he called for the world to find what they could do to expand human freedom.
JFK had a sense of history. He read Barbara Tuchman’s “The Guns of August” before the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Pulitzer Prize-winning book on the major strategic errors that led to World War I greatly shaped the mind of this President when the Soviet Union tried to take the world into nuclear war. You can make the case that his sense of history saved the world.
You cannot discuss JFK without mentioning how he died. His murder is in a historical pantheon only occupied by Julius Caesar, Jesus Christ, and Franz Ferdinand. It has been the subject of at least 2,000 books, many of them falsely saying it was a government conspiracy.
His murder symbolized America’s descent into violence and political disorder throughout the 1960s and the 1970s.
One can only imagine what could have happened if John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been given more than 46 years, 5 months, 25 days to live.