8 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About JFK

8 Facts You Probably Didn't Know About JFK

May 29, 2017 marks the 100-year anniversary of the birth of John F. Kennedy. JFK is often revered for his short, but successful time as the President of the United States, and his untimely and controversial death in 1963.

In celebration of his legacy here’s a countdown of 8 facts you may not know about the 35th President of the United States of America:

Jack, not John:
JFK was born John Fitzgerald Kennedy, but what most people do not know is he was called “Jack” by his relatives. This nickname stuck throughout his lifetime, although he is commonly referred to as John F. Kennedy or JFK by the public. It is actually reported that his wife Jacqueline’s final words to him were “Jack can you hear me? I love you, Jack,” which implies that this nickname was used by those closest to him.

Parlez-vous français?
Not many people know that JFK’s wife, Jacqueline Kennedy (née Bouvier) was fluent in French, among other languages. John, himself, could only speak English, and desperately wanted to learn the language of love. While he was never able to succeed in learning French, JFK did briefly enroll in language lessons. Here’s a brief clip of the former president trying out his language skills:

A master orator:
Part of JFK’s legacy comes down to his exceptional skills at public speaking. Kennedy’s choice of words, immaculate tone, and calm and collected body language was all tied together with his iconic Boston accent, distinguishing him as a master of oratory. In his short career, JFK pronounced some of the most memorable speeches in American history, including quotes such as “Ich bin ein Berliner,” and “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

A charitable man:
JFK came from a very wealthy background; in fact, at the time of his election, he was the richest person to ever assume the presidency. This wealth, however, never got to his head, as during his time in Congress, Kennedy donated his entire earnings to charitable donations across the country. JFK continued this tradition of generosity during his presidency, with donations of his entire presidential salary to charity (estimated at $100,000).

Health issues galore:
JFK had apparently been plagued with health issues from his youth, causing him to take a series of medication throughout his life. His left leg was ¾ shorter than his right leg causing back pain, he had major intestinal issues and even failed the U.S. Army’s physical examination. To make matters worse, Kennedy received his last rites on three occasions prior to his death: in 1947, 1951 and in 1954.

Anchors aweigh, my President:
Many people are unaware that JFK joins the long list of presidents who served for their country. Kennedy served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, and was the Commander of PT-109 in the Pacific War. During the war, his ship was rammed by a Japanese destroyer, when Kennedy managed to bring his crew to safety, and write a life-saving message on a coconut, which was delivered to allies. The coconut famously became his Oval Office paperweight, and JFK became the only president to receive a Purple Heart award.

Prediction of his assassination:
JFK’s untimely death shocked the entire world. While there had been at least four failed attempts at Kennedy’s assassination, he was convinced that he would be killed in office. JFK even wrote a James Bond story, using himself, his family and U.S. officials as characters… with himself assassinated in the presence of his wife and the Secret Service.

Truly a man for the people:
One of JFK’s greatest legacies was his highly progressive mentality. While he is famously remembered for his Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which passed posthumously), Kennedy also broke grounds being the first president to dance with an African American woman at his Inaugural Ball. To add to his forward thinking, JFK also refused to attend the (then male-only) White House Correspondent’s Dinner in 1962 unless women were able to attend as well.

Tags: JFK, John F Kennedy

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