Profiles in Courage

By Damien Knight

President John F. Kennedy was elected president in November 8 1960 against the then Vice President, Richard Nixon. Kennedy was the first Catholic and the youngest presidential candidate in history. At the time of his bid for presidency “anti-Catholicism was alive and well”, (Champion, Owen F) and for many Americans there was serious concern over having a Catholic president. He overcame this with his charisma during televised debates and beat Nixon in a landslide and on January 20th 1961. It was during his inaugural address he told Americans those famous words “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” (The 6th Street Museum, Dallas)

President Kennedy was poised to begin his “New Frontier” policies. On March 1 1961 he formed the Peace Corps fulfilling for Americans a way for them to “do for their country,” and the world. He was a cultured president who held art viewings and socialites in the white house. He was also human and prone to err like the rest of us. During April 17 1961 the bay of pig invasion was launched. A thousand exiled Cubans attacked Cuba in a failed bid to overthrow Dictator Fidel Castro. (JFK Assassination Timeline) Kennedy bravely and publicly accepted the failure. In response to this disaster Kennedy created The Situation Room to filter military intelligence he would receive. This showed he was willing to act on his failing. Soon after Kennedy authorizes 400 U.S. Soldiers to go to Vietnam.

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