I thought in today’s troubling times I would share this essay of hope. Please enjoy and share your favorite president in the comments.
A Dance with Catherine: The Many Faces of John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy came into his presidency looking as a fresh, new face in the American government. In fact, the American public was immediately taken by the bright, upbeat image he exuded. The people as well as the government slowly grew in majority to believe that Kennedy could handle anything, and as it turns out, it is almost certain that no one could have done a better job, or spoken to the people quite like Mr. Kennedy. The one thing that completely stunned the people was the influential, charismatic mannerisms that this president had. He was not only the youngest president ever, but one whose speeches are still quoted today. Being born into a wealthy, influential family he experienced extravagant living from the beginning. The other extravagant, personal characteristic about him that one notices right away is his amazing courage.
In many ways, Kennedy had an unfinished life, only living from 1927 to 1963 (Dallek). He was assassinated before he could properly deal with the Vietnam War. Many believe that there was a plot against his life and that is unfortunate for he could have accomplished so many more things. Sometimes what made the state senator turned president’s life more extravagant was the simplicity in which he executed his speech. “This is a great country. But I think it can be greater. I think we can do better. I think we can make this country move again.” (Rubin) More so, Kennedy not only gave moving speeches but a whole lot more care was put into each and every word like an artist with an unfinished piece of art. “Kennedy actually stirred people into action.” (Rubin)
However, the speeches he gave while alive were enough from moving us to tears, to changing our entire spectrum of thinking. John F. Kennedy is best perhaps remembered for his inaugural speech, in which he states, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” (Clarke) There is another quote that proves that not even the president believes completely in our justice system, and that is an extraordinary thing for him to admit. “Law alone cannot make men see right.” (Rubin)
When medical problems put a damper on the president’s life he had this to say, “No this is my time. My time is now.” (Dallek) He was suddenly ill, and some doctors even speculated him to be in a wheel chair for a while. However, the strong-willed president just kept upon the path he was. Despite being so rich and having such luxuries, he managed to keep a straight head and relate to the American public. This situation of illness proved that the president was willing to pull himself forward and lead the nation until his untimely death in 1963 in Texas. His death left a permanent scar of questions that will never be answered.
Perhaps the most extravagant thing in Kennedy’s life was his role in the Vietnam War. It was clear he wanted us to get out of it, but because of assassination that would never be so. He expressed concerns that Vietnam would join the already growing curtain of red, in other words communism. Although Kennedy was not a coward, he felt dignified with losing this war. “Did not necessitate a victory”, he was clear as a bell in his thinking that Vietnam cannot fall, but he also believed that we, as a people needed to realize that we should pull out of Vietnam. The amount of money and lost lives that had been spent was unacceptable to him and the American people. He acknowledged that as another excellent reason to pull out of Vietnam, for if the plans were not following through then, the cost was not worth the loss of money and life.
The attention-grabbing concept about the crisis with Russia, Cuba, and Vietnam, was not only his different responses to each, but how his children were all shown with him, a bonding that would not last. His daughter, Catherine, is shown dancing with him in a well-known book, and it shows the sensitive caring side of the president. (Kennedy had to deal with the Cuban Missile Crisis which involved Russia (Perret). Any other president would have his children away and protected while he worked under these extremely stressful conditions. He worked in these top secret meetings, but in between them would always have time for a dance with Catherine. Many look at this as inappropriate. However, Kennedy did not care and for that he should be applauded, for as extravagant as he was as a president, he was twice as amazing a dad. When he passed away, America’s heart broke right with Catherine.
As a result, Kennedy was seen as an extravagant person as a politician and father. He was incredible during his inaugural speech that that set him off in the right direction. His dealings with the Cuban Missile Crisis and ultimately Vietnam showed his character as not only a president but a person. It is so difficult to imagine that such an amazing human being could be assassinated and more so that America could continue fighting in a war it was not meant to win. So here is a final quote from Kennedy’s first speech as president. They are powerful words, but universal as well, and prove as to the color of his character. “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” (Safire)