An Idealist without Illusions

A few nights ago, my roommate was playing Trivia Crack when she encountered the question:  “Who was the only Catholic president?”  She laughed at the game, mocking its lack of difficulty.

I laughed along with her.  “It’s not like you can just look around the room for that one!”  In all seriousness, there’s no doubt that I’m a Kennedy fan.

Here, Jack hangs out by my desk.  Whenever Buzzfeed seems to be trumping my homework motivation, he's there to say "Hey, hate to bother you, but you know, I was a war hero,  a senator, President, and a published author.  You should probably complete your schoolwork.

Here, Jack hangs out by my desk. Whenever Buzzfeed seems to be trumping my homework motivation, he’s there to say “Hey, hate to bother you, but you know, I was a war hero, a senator, President, and a published author. You should probably complete your schoolwork.”

My grandfather made me this brilliant collage as a back-to-school gift-  he's fostered a love of history in me for years, and Kennedy's no exception!

My grandfather made me this brilliant collage as a back-to-school gift- he’s fostered a love of history in me for years and Kennedy’s no exception!

My room at home’s even more astonishing.  Aside from about a dozen books, I’ve got a record, a decorative plate, a raised copper depiction, a painting of Jack and (dare I say, the more attractive?) Bobby….  One of my high school teachers- and fellow flea-market junkie- caught on to my interest and picked up most of these items for me.  Thanks, Mrs. Ulsh!

So, what’s there to like?  Plenty.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the second son born to Joe and Elizabeth (Fitzgerald) Kennedy.  His brother, Joe Jr., was expected to rise into politics (kind of like Arthur, Prince of Wales), but his untimely death passed the metaphorical gavel to Jack, whose poor health had long been a factor in his relatively lesser perceived potential.  The latter had become a war hero while commanding PT-109 (a Patrol Torpedo boat), when he acted to save his crew members despite a repeated injury to his back.

After the war, JFK, with many fellow veterans, headed to Congress.  During this time, he befriended Richard Nixon, who would later serve as a subsequent US President.

Jack continued in the legislature, and married Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy in 1953.

In 1957, his book Profiles in Courage won the Nobel Prize for Biography.  Translated into many languages, the book helped put JFK in the national spotlight.

DSCF6535

At forty-three years old, John F. Kennedy became the first Catholic president (this had been a huge roadblock during his election, as people worried his loyalty to the Pope would interfere with his loyalty to America).

There are countless more facts I could list about Jack Kennedy, but this would become an impossibly long post, and I don’t want to do that to you, dear readers.  Instead, I’ll simply state once more that I’m a fan of the man, and leave you to make judgements for yourself.

If you’re interested in looking more indepthly at Kennedy and his legacy, I highly recommend Larry Sabato (University of Virginia)’s course The Kennedy Half-Century, which I’m taking now.  Coursera’s classes are free, and this is one of many that you can complete entirely at your own pace!

His book is a recommended companion to the class, and to any Kennedy fan!

His book is a recommended companion to the class, and to any Kennedy fan!

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2 thoughts on “An Idealist without Illusions

  1. HogriderDookes says:

    Super post and very nice site. I dropped by after seeing you post on The Community Pool. As a Non-American, with quite a lot of family who are, I’ve never really got how JFK can still polarise opinions, even so many years after his death. I can just remember his assassination when I was a child and the effect it had even here in the UK. My Chicagoan cousin and I have spent many hours discussing/arguing about JFK, I’m a bigger fan than him, but then he is very Republican, though also a Catholic…! 🙂
    Dookes

    Like

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