The 50th Anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s tragic assasination


November, 23, 2013


Yesterday marked the 50th Anniversary of President  John F. Kennedy’s tragic assassination that rocked the country and the world.

JFK is one of my all-time most respected political and military heroes since I was a young grammar school student.  I still look up to him.  He was a very young Irish-Catholic man who broke through unimaginable barriers with professional gracefulness beyond his years.  Since I wasn’t born yet when he was assassinated, I’ve grown up learning to feel the sadness that comes from learning about his career and person while recognizing that he (like many heroes) unfairly paid the ultimate price for his country.  Parents and teachers please remember that every coming generation will learn about JFK through this lens.  I plan to teach my future children all about him, so that they can understand why the country mourned him not just as a President, war hero, and Congressman, but also as a father, brother, husband, and worldwide symbol of peace and strength.

As time passes it’s more and more important to recognize him for his actions and his inspiration than his unfortunate passing.

Here are some highlights of his achievements that make up the fabric of why I believe President Kennedy is such an inspiring figure.  It’s certainly not all-inclusive and often summarizes complex and difficult issues, but it touches on why I continue to admire and study JFK.  Below please read some quoted text from State Senator Marc Pacheco, who recently spoke about JFK very eloquently.

  • NAVY IN WWII 1941-1945: Kennedy served in the Navy during World War II.  He was honorably discharged as a lieutenant. He had command of PT-109 & 59, and when PT-109 was hit by a Japanese destroyer the crew were knocked into the water.  Kennedy swam for hours saving himself and fellow countrymen.  He suffered more injuries to his back.  Over the course of his service he was awarded: the Purple Heart, Navy & Marine Corps Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and an Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three bronze service stars.
  • PRESIDENT: Served as President of the United States from 1961-1963
  • HOUSE: Won two terms in the House of Representatives in Massachusetts’ 11th Congressional District (1947-1953)
  • SENATE: Elected to the U.S. Senate and served 1953-1961
  • BOOK: Wrote the oft-controversial but masterful book “Profiles in Courage” which was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.  This focused on instances when Senators (whether he agreed with their sentiments or not) stood up for what they believed in despite all costs.
  • 1960 DEBATES: Famous 1960 political debates against Richard Nixon (then Eisenhower’s Vice President) which set the standard for political finesse and presence in additional to professional acumen.
  • INDEPENDENT THINKING DEMOCRAT: Known to not follow the Democratic majority in the House, Senate, and as President whenever he felt he needed to.
  • ASSASSINATION: On November 22, 1963 he was killed in Dallas, Texas allegedly by Lee Harvey Oswald, who was killed by Jack Ruby before trial.  There has been disagreement between the FBI, a subsequent House Committee investigation (HSCA), Warren Commission, historians, etc. whether Oswald acted alone.  He was only 46 years old.
  • CIVIL RIGHTS: Executive Orders, public appeals, federal marshals to protect the Freedom Riders, 1963 Civil Rights Address, and legislation that was passed posthumously in the Civil Rights Acts of 1964.  He’s been criticized by some for not being strong enough on Civil Rights, however in his public speeches, and as private meetings have revealed he always maintained that we are all equal, and any action or policy that disregards that is absolutely wrong.  His first strategy session for a civil rights act occurred before he was even sworn in, but he remained nervous that unweighed words or actions could derail his larger goals for civil rights legislation before the end of his term.
  • ACHIEVEMENTS: Created the Peace Corps, his handling the Cuban Missile Crisis, Increased minimum wage, Set goal and gained momentum on getting to the moon before 1970 defending his expanded funding to the space program, Better Social Security benefits, Balanced Budget Pledge, Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, created the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women
  • RELIGION: First and only Catholic President to date
  • HEALTH: Never gave up when health problems got in the way, including enrolling in the Navy when he was medically disqualified from joining the Army
  • DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION SPEECH: A quote from his speech: “For the problems are not all solved and the battles are not all won—and we stand today on the edge of a New Frontier … But the New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises—it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them.”
  • INAUGURAL ADDRESS: His most famous quote: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” asking the world to battle the “common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.”
  • OTHER FACTS: Born in Brookline, MA, Varsity Swim Team at Harvard, former journalist, lifetime NRA member, Irish


John_F_Kennedy_Official_Portrait[Photo Credit: Aaron Shikler, Oil Portrait of John F. Kennedy, 1970 White House Historical Association (White House Collection) Link:]

Following is an eloquent statement from State Senator Marc R. Pacheco, who I’ve interned for in the past. I appreciate his words, and hope you do too.



“A mix of emotions washes over me today as I remember the tragic assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a horrific act that ended the life of a leader whose passion and vision continues to shape the world we live in today.

I remember President Kennedy’s devastating death with sadness, as I think about how much more he had to offer this world, but I’m also comforted by his inspiring legacy, as “the torch” he referenced in his inaugural address truly “has been passed to a new generation of Americans.”

Despite the uncertain times we faced in the wake of President Kennedy’s death, we have seen a new generation of American leaders come together and tirelessly take on causes of justice and equal opportunity as a result of the work President Kennedy started. Let us never forget that mission, as we honor this great man and great president, who was taken away from so many who loved him, far too soon.” -Massachusetts State Senator Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton)


Thank you for reading, and feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss JFK.


Jessica L. Finocchiaro, MPA, MS
Methuen Member-Elect, Greater Lawrence Regional Technical High School Committee
Phone: (978) 566-1786
MEDIA: For more information about this release, email Jessica at
Twitter: @JessFinocchiaro
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