Kennedy’s legacy

John F. Kennedy was the youngest man ever to serve as U.S. president. Click on the gallery for photos detailing key moments in his campaign for the White House, his brief time in office, and his untimely death.

John F. Kennedy at the age of six months in Brookline, Mass., 1917. His mother, Rose Kennedy, named him in honor of her father, John Francis Fitzgerald, the popular Boston mayor known as "Honey Fitz."


Young John F. Kennedy, his brother and three sisters are shown in 1923 with his mother, Rose Kennedy. The children are,from left, Eunice, Kathleen, Rosemary, John, and Joseph, Jr. When John was just three years old, he became sick with scarlet fever, a potentially life-threatening illness. He recovered but was never very healthy as a child.


Kennedy in the football uniform of the Dexter School, a private elementary school in Brookline, Mass., in 1927. The Kennedy children were encouraged to be competitive and play to win. He and his older brother, Joe, collided while racing bicycles and John ended up with 28 stitches.

Anonymous / BOSTON GLOBE

American multi-millionaire Joseph Patrick Kennedy, right, the newly-appointed ambassador to London, with his wife Rose Kennedy, second from right, and eight of their nine children, in London, 1937. From left: Edward, Jeanne, Robert, Patricia, Eunice, Kathleen, Rosemary and John F. Kennedy. After graduating from high school, John followed his brother Joe to Harvard and also played football. There, he ruptured a disk in his spine, which bothered him the rest of his life. A summer break visit to London sparked his interest in history and government.

Keystone / Hulton Archive

Kennedy aboard the PT-109 in the South Pacific, in 1943. After graduating from college, both John and Joe joined the Navy. John was assigned to the South Pacific where he commanded a patrol torpedo boat. On Aug. 2, 1943, his crew was struck by a Japanese destroyer splitting their boat in half and killing two of his men. Kennedy led his surviving men to a small island where they were found by natives six days later. His brother, Joe, was killed a year later when his plane blew up during a mission in Europe.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Lib / JOHN F KENNEDY PRESIDENTIAL LIBR

Kennedy at one of his campaign headquarters in 1946. Upon returning from the war, Kennedy had serious discussions with his father, who convinced him to run for Congress. He won the seat and began his political career, serving three terms in the House. In 1952, he was elected to the Senate.


Sen. Kennedy and his fiancee, Jacqueline Bouvier, prepare a sailboat in Hyannis, Mass., June 27, 1953. She was working as a photographer at the Washington Times-Herald in 1951 when they met at a dinner party in Georgetown. They were engaged two years later.


Sen. Kennedy and his bride, Jacqueline Bouvier, walk down the church aisle shortly after their wedding ceremony on Sept. 12,1953, in Newport, R.I. Soon after they wed, Kennedy had two operations on his back. While recovering, he wrote a book about several U.S. senators called "Profiles in Courage," which won the Pulitzer Prize for biographies in 1957.

Keystone / Hulton Archive

Kennedy greets residents of Baltimore on May 13, 1960. Kennedy won Maryland in the 1960 election with 54 percent of the vote.


Kennedy addresses his supporters at the 1960 Democratic Convention in Los Angeles. Defeating Lyndon Johnson, Adlai Stevenson and other rivals, Kennedy was nominated as the Democratic Party's choice for president. He delivered his acceptance speech on July 15, the final night of the convention.

Ed Clark / Time & Life Pictures

Kennedy speaks to Sen. Lyndon Johnson at the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles on Aug. 15, 1960. Southern Democratic leaders told Kennedy he could not win the presidency without having Johnson on the ticket.


A view from the control room as Kennedy and Richard Nixon participate in the first televised presidential debate on Sept. 26, 1960. Nixon looked tired and ill during the debate, while Kennedy looked well-rested and healthy. Those who listened to the debate on the radio thought Nixon had won; television viewers thought it was a victory for Kennedy. After the debate, polls showed Kennedy taking a slight lead over Nixon.

Cbs Photo Archive / Hulton Archive

Jacqueline Kennedy greets her husband following his inaugural address on Jan. 20, 1961. In his inauguration speech, he urged Americans to "ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."

Henry Burroughs / AP

Kennedy speaks from behind the podium as a map of Laos at left reads "Communist Rebel Areas, 22 March 1961," at the State Department Auditorium in Washington, D.C., March 23, 1961. Kennedy continued the policy of his predecessesor, Dwight D. Eisenhower in supporting the government of South Vietnam.

Abbie Rowe / National Park Servi / JOHN F KENNEDY PRESIDENTIAL LIBR

President Kennedy meets with former President Dwight Eisenhower at Camp David in Thurmont, Md., on April 22, 1961 to discuss the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. CIA-backed Cuban emigre forces failed to overthrow the Cuban government, led by Fidel Castro.

Paul Vathis / AP

Kennedy meets with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev during the Vienna summit at the U.S. Embassy in Austria on June 3, 1961. The two leaders clashed sharply over the future status of the divided city of Berlin.

Ron Case / Hulton Archive

Kennedy addresses the nation on Oct. 24, 1962, about the Cuban Missile Crisis. The president announced that days earlier, the United States discovered Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba. In his speech, the president stated that the United States would regard an attack "...against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union." The crisis ebbed after Soviet leader Krushchev agreed to remove Soviet rockets from Cuba in return for the United States removing its missiles from Turkey.

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Kennedy chats with a group of miners during his travels on the 1960 campaign trail.

Hank Walker / Time & Life Pictures

Astronaut John Glenn, right, shows President Kennedy his "Friendship 7" space capsule at Cape Canaveral, Fla., in this Feb. 23, 1962 photo. In May of 1961, only four months after taking office, Kennedy addressed Congress, making space travel a goal of his administration. On July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 spacecraft landed on the moon.

Cecil Stoughton/white House/hand / JOHN F KENNEDY PRESIDENTIAL LIBR

Thousands watch Kennedy give a speech on June 26, 1963, in West Berlin, Germany. Kennedy's support of a democratic West Germany was central in the Cold War, a conflict that defined the Kennedy administration.


Kennedy speaks with civil rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on Aug. 1, 1963. In June of that year, Kennedy sent a bill to Congress that aimed to give all Americans the right to service in public facilities. This legislation would later become the Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed into law less than a year after Kennedy's death.

Three Lions / Hulton Archive

President Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline, with their children, John F. Kennedy Jr. and Caroline Kennedy, along with the family dogs, in Hyannis Port, Mass., Aug. 14, 1963.

Cecil Stoughton/white House/hand / JOHN F KENNEDY PRESIDENTIAL LIBR

President Kennedy and his brothers, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, left, and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, center, outside the Oval Office, Aug. 28, 1963.

Cecil Stoughton/white House/hand / JOHN F KENNEDY PRESIDENTIAL LIBR

Vice President Lyndon Johnson (far right) and a group of senators watch Kennedy as he signs the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty on Oct. 7, 1963. Kennedy joined leaders of the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom in signing the treaty to ban all above-ground testing of nuclear weapons.

Keystone / Hulton Archive

Kennedy works in the Oval Office while his son, 2-year-old John Jr., plays under his desk on Oct. 15, 1963. John Jr. was born less than three weeks after Kennedy won the election in November 1960.

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President Kennedy and his wife travel in the motorcade in Dallas, Texas, on Nov. 22, 1963. Moments later, Kennedy would be fatally shot in the head by a gunman. He was the fourth president to be assassinated.

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Just two hours after President Kennedy was shot, Jacqueline Kennedy stands by Vice President Johnson as he takes the oath of office from federal judge Sarah Hughes (left), on Air Force One. Johnson would aim to continue the programs of the Kennedy administration. He would also create the Warren Commission to investigate Kennedy's death.

Keystone / Hulton Archive

John F. Kennedy Jr., 3, salutes as the casket of his father is carried out from St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 25, 1963.

© Bettmann/corbis / Corbis

Kennedy's funeral procession enters Arlington National Cemetery. When he took the oath of office, Kennedy was the youngest ever to be elected to the presidency. Less than three years later, he was the youngest president to die.

National Archives / Getty Images North America

Bugler Army Sgt. Maj. Woodrow English plays taps during a burial ceremony for Sen. Ted Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery, Aug. 29, 2009. The final resting place of American heroes opened its gates to embrace one more, as Edward Kennedy was buried near his two slain brothers. Former President John F. Kennedy's gravesite, marked with the eternal flame, is at the lower right.

Richard A. Lipski / AFP