John F Kennedy

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JFK2On January 20, 1961, John Fitzgerald Kennedy became the 35th president of the United States.

In his inaugural address, Kennedy emphasized America’s need for active citizens, enjoining each of us, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” An Irish American, JFK at age 43 was the youngest president ever elected, the first president born in the 20th century, and the first Roman Catholic to hold our nation’s highest office. Sadly,

Kennedy’s life was cut short by an assassin’s bullets on November 22, 1963. Let’s step back in time and learn more about different stages in the life of this fascinating American leader in this month’s Internet Challenge™.

Ready to begin?JFK3

Our main Web site that we’ll explore is called The History Place – JFK Photo History at http://www.historyplace.com/kennedy/gallery.htm Click each link to read about John Kennedy during a particular time period: “The Early Years,” “War Hero,” “Politician” and “President.” To view a larger image of the photographs, click on each thumbnail photo. (After you’re done, be sure to click your browser’s “Back” button to return to the previous page.) Click the correct links to advance to the next page. After you’re done, answer the following questions.

1. Fiercely loyal and fiercely competitive, [Joseph and John] sometimes even brawled as boys. Choose an antonym for the word “brawled.”

a. scuffled

b. fought

c. wrestled

d. agreed

2. What is a British police officer called?





JFK43. Why did Ambassador Joseph Kennedy’s popularity decline after the outbreak of World War II?





4. How did Kennedy earn the nicknames of “Shafty” and “Crash?”





5. Who was known as “Honey Fitz?”





6. Find a word in the following sentence that means “a person who leaves one country to settle permanently in another.”

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, war hero and great grandson of Irish immigrants, campaigned for a seat in the U.S. Congress during Boston's Bunker Hill Day parade in 1946.





7. Kennedy suffered from few health problems as a child and as an adult.JFK5

a. True

b. False

8. How did the death of Kennedy’s brother, Joe, affect his future?




9. Name the book that Kennedy wrote for which he won the 1957 Pulitzer Prize for biography.





10. Describe the type of victory that Kennedy experienced in the 1960 presidential election.





11. Describe the details surrounding the Bay of Pigs event and President Kennedy’s reaction to it.





12. How did President Kennedy respond after he reviewed aerial photos indicating the placement of Soviet missiles in Cuba in October 1962?





13. Name the agency that President Kennedy created with the purpose of inspiring young Americans to serve overseas in developing countries.





14.What was President Kennedy’s stand on civil rights?





15. President Kennedy gave a message to the German people when he traveled to the Berlin Wall in Germany in1963. What did he say?





16. Name the man who succeeded to the presidency after John F. Kennedy was assassinated.






Let’s go to the History Channel’s feature on JFK at http://www.history.com/topics/john-f-kennedy.  Read the information and complete the following project.

17. Create a JFK timeline showing these dates: 1917, 1943, 1944, 1952, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961 and 1963. Include a brief description for each event. Use paper, pencil or computer software to create your timeline.


WH/HO PortraitThe next Web site is Biography of John F. Kennedy at the official site of the White House. You’ll find it at www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/jk35.html


Answer the question below after you’ve looked this page over.


18. John F. Kennedy’s vision of America extended to the quality of the national culture and the central role of the arts in a vital society.

a. True

b. False


Our next site is Britannica’s page on JFK at http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/314791/John-F-Kennedy. Read and then answer the questions below.


19. If John F. Kennedy were alive today, would he be nearly…

a. eight decades old

b. nine decades old


20. Look at the last section “Assassination and Burial.” Explain the controversy regarding who shot John F. Kennedy.





Very good answers!



Extension Activity


(The site listed below contains information and photographs about JFK and resources for teachers.)


Let’s go to John F. Kennedy Library and Museum – A Biography of John F. Kennedy: The 35th President of the United States. You can find this resource by going to http://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/Life-of-John-F-Kennedy.aspx.


You’re a TV director who has been given an assignment. Design a slideshow (with 6-8 slides) depicting major events in John F. Kennedy’s life. Write a detailed explanation for each slide. Create your own original artwork for your pictures. Use paper, pencil and art tools or computer software to do this. Upon completion, show your TV presentation to your teacher and classmates.

Narrate your slideshow. Afterwards, discuss why you chose certain events and how you created your presentation.



Congratulations! You’ve done an extraordinary job competing this Internet Challenge™. John F. Kennedy, though he served only for a brief time, stands in the minds of many as the President who most exemplified the spirit of America. A man of remarkable personality, leadership and accomplishments, Kennedy is most remembered for his hopeful, optimistic vision of our nation’s future. While he was in Dublin, Ireland in June 1963, a few months before his death, Kennedy said, “We need men who can dream of things that never were.” Four decades later, this message seems more vital than ever.


Answers to January’s Internet Challenge™


1. (d) is the answer.

2. A British police officer is called a British Bobbie.

3. After the start of World War II, Ambassador Joseph Kennedy sent his family home to escape the bombing in London and publicly expressed doubts about England's ability to stand up to Hitler's onslaught, losing popularity, and eventually losing his position as ambassador as well.

4. Jack Kennedy had volunteered in 1942 for PT boat duty while attending officer training in Chicago, then underwent PT boat training in Rhode Island. But his bad back temporarily kept him from getting the combat assignment he wanted. Jack complained he had been 'shafted' and was promptly given the nickname “Shafty.” In 1943, Jack's PT 109 boat was a dirty, bug infested boat in need of repairs. Jack and his crew cleaned and painted the boat while mechanics fixed the engines and hull. PT 109 then went on night training patrols. Returning from patrols, Jack and the others often raced their boats back into the dock. On one occasion, Jack couldn't stop PT 109, crashed into the dock and earned a temporary new nickname, “Crash” Kennedy.

5. Jack’s grandfather, John Francis Fitzgerald, was the popular Boston Mayor who everybody knew as “Honey Fitz.” Rose Kennedy, Jack’s mother, was Honey Fitz’ daughter.

6. The word is “immigrant.”

7. (b) False is the answer. In his boyhood and throughout his young life, Jack Kennedy suffered from many health problems including; scarlet fever, diphtheria, appendicitis, malaria, jaundice, hepatitis, adrenal insufficiency, irritable stomach, a hearing problem (left ear), pet allergy (dogs), and chronic back pain. Despite all this, to the public he later defined the look of vibrant American youth, a huge accomplishment, and due largely to Jack's sheer will power in overcoming his health problems.

8. Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. dreamed of the day when his son, Joe Jr., would become the first Irish Catholic President of the United States. During World War II, Joe enlisted in the Navy and was assigned to England in 1943. On August 12, Joe Kennedy's plane exploded shortly after takeoff, killing him and his co-pilot instantly. The loss was devastating to Joe Kennedy Sr. who had so much hope for the future of his beloved namesake. In his absence he turned to his next son, Jack. Shortly after the war ended, John Fitzgerald Kennedy's political career began.

9. Kennedy wrote Profiles in Courage, which examined the lives of eight outstanding past U.S. Senators and went on to win the 1957 Pulitzer Prize for biography, greatly enhancing Jack's reputation.

10. Kennedy won by one of the smallest margins of victory, only 115,000 popular votes.

11. Bay of Pigs refers to the attempt made by over 1200 anti-Castro Cuban rebels to land on the southern coast of Cuba and overthrow the regime of Fidel Castro on April 17, 1961. Although trained and backed by the U.S. government, the invasion failed as the rebels were attacked by Cuban military forces and received no support from the U.S. military or anti-Castro people in Cuba. As a result, they were quickly defeated and put in prison, causing a major embarrassment to the Kennedy White House. At a press meeting on April 20, the President effectively deflected much of the criticism by commenting on some of the lessons he learned from the failed mission - “...the forces of Communism are not to be underestimated.”

12. After reviewing aerial photos indicating the placement of Soviet missiles in Cuba, the President spoke to the nation on TV on October 22, 1962, and reported that there was “unmistakable evidence...of offensive missile sites now in preparation...to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere...It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba...as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.” On October 23, the President signed a proclamation prohibiting shipment to Cuba of missiles and other weapons, and authorized the U.S. military to intercept and search any ships heading toward Cuba. The whole world waited to see what would happen. Days later, the Soviets backed down and agreed to remove the missiles from Cuba if the U.S. would lift the blockade and guarantee that there would be no U.S. invasion of Cuba.

13. President Kennedy created the Peace Corps.

14. Another focus of the Kennedy White House was the struggle of African-Americans for equal treatment. On June 11, 1963, the President ordered Alabama Governor George Wallace to cease and discontinue from obstructing black students from attending the University of Alabama. The President delivered a major televised address on civil rights where he said, “It ought to be possible...for every American to enjoy the privileges of being American without regard to his race or color.”

15. In Berlin, the President spoke to the enormous crowd of Germans, telling them, “All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words, 'Ich bin ein Berliner.' (I am a Berliner.)

16. Lyndon B. Johnson, Kennedy’s Vice-President, became president of the United States after Kennedy was shot.

17. The timeline would show these dates: 1917 (JFK was born), 1943 (Kennedy saved several of his men after the PT torpedo boat he was commanding was sunk in the South Pacific), 1944 (Kennedy's older brother, Joseph, was killed in a bombing mission over Belgium), 1952 (Kennedy captured the Senate seat of Republican Henry Cabot Lodge Jr.), 1956 (JFK nearly became the running mate of Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson, which gave him wide national exposure), 1957 (JFK won the Pulitzer Prize for his book of biographical essays, Profiles in Courage), 1958 (JFK was reelected to the Senate by the largest margin in Massachusetts history), 1960 (JFK was elected president), 1961 (Kennedy was inaugurated as the 35th president of the United States), and 1963 (Kennedy was assassinated while riding in an open-car motorcade with his wife in Dallas, Texas).

18. (a) True

19. John F. Kennedy would have been 86 and half years old (2004-1917) if he had lived. In May 2004, he

would have celebrated his 87th birthday. He would have been nearly nine decades old!

20. On the day of the assassination, the police arrested Lee Harvey Oswald, a 24-year-old ex-Marine, for the president's murder. Oswald, who had lived for a time in the Soviet Union, killed Dallas Policeman J. D.

Tippit while resisting arrest. Two days later, in the basement of the Dallas police station, Oswald himself was fatally shot by Jack Ruby, a nightclub owner. On November 29, President Johnson appointed a seven member commission, headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren, to conduct a thorough investigation of the assassination and report to the nation. The commission's report, made public on Sept. 27, 1964, held that Oswald fired the shots that killed the president. Further, to allay suspicions that the murder was a

conspiratorial plot, it stated that the committee “found no evidence” that either Oswald or Ruby “was part of any conspiracy, domestic or foreign, to assassinate President Kennedy.” In 1979, however, the House

assassinations committee, after approximately two years of investigation, concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald probably was part of a conspiracy that also may have included members of organized crime. It still has not been settled, even four decades later.


Extension Activities – Students’ own work.

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