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4 JFK Facts Every Man Should Know – John F Kennedy

john f kennedy sailing pt 109

4 JFK Facts Every Man Should Know – John F Kennedy

If you’ve ever cracked a book about John F Kennedy, you’ve probably been overwhelmed by the number of amazing facts and stories surrounding this man and his family.

Like many men, I’ve always been curious about this well-known political figure and cultural icon. Previously, I’ve read JFK’s own book Profiles in Courage, which provided some insights into his political thinking and definitions of senatorial courage. In this book he explored some unpopular decisions by senators and American political figures, where they placed the good of all above party lines. It was thought provoking and exciting to read the perspective of a young politician praising those who made choices that weren’t expedient – to their own detriment. I think it really spoke to JFKs own character.

More recently however, I read Frederik Logevall’s first volume of a two part series chronicling John F. Kennedy’s life and times. JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century 1917-1956 covers the life and times of JFK and his family, stretching from when his ancestors first came to the U.S., all the way up to his election as president (which will be covered in Volume II). If you’re interested in fascinating people and outsized impacts on the world, read this book. It opened my eyes up to the incredible life of this singular force of a person who is still making waves in societies the world over today.

Here are 4 Facts Every Man Should Know About JFK:

  1. He received last rites four times in his life, before his assassination.
  2. JFK was a war hero.
  3. He was a Pulitzer Prize winning author before he was 40.
  4. His family was incredibly industrious, rich, and some might say cursed.

john f kennedy style fashion

1. JFK received his Last Rites four times before his death

Jack suffered various health issues since he was a young child, including scarlet fever, back pain and various other unexplained illnesses. Eventually, he would be diagnosed with Addisons Disease, an adrenal disorder affecting hormones in the body. He would be hospitalized several times throughout his life, often causing him to miss months or even years of school for recoveries. Time off to recover delayed his entry to Harvard, for instance. He also wrote Profiles while recuperating from illness.

JFK was given his last rites at age 2 while suffering from scarlet fever when doctors feared he would never recover. He also received them after falling ill in Europe and being transferred back to the US, and after a health scare and seizure during a tour of Asia with brother Robert. The final time he would receive these rites was in 1954, while a member of the Senate, he underwent a complex back surgery and eventually fell into a coma. Miraculously, he would recover again and return to work the following spring.

2. John F. Kennedy Was a War Hero

JFK fought in the pacific theatre, serving as a commander of a PT boat (PT 109) fighting the Japanese near the Solomon Islands. In the middle of the night, the boat was struck but a Japanese destroyer that basically cut it in half – without noticing. Of the 13 men on board, two were killed in the collision, but thankfully the destroyer kept moving along.

JFK managed to coordinate his men to swim to nearby Plum Pudding Island to hopefully await rescue. One of his men, Patrick McMahon, suffered horrible burns over 70% of his body. Jack, a fairly strong swimmer, towed McMahon 3.5 miles through crocodile and shark infested water using only a lifejacket strap held with his teeth to pull the man.

John F. Kennedy’s war heroism was incredible and any man should read about what happened to the crew of PT109. JFK completed several other amazing swims, and even negotiated their rescue using a coconut to communicate to US forces. You can’t make this stuff up!

jfk aboard pt 109 john f kennedy facts

3. JFK Won the Pulitzer Prize before he was 40

JFK was a celebrated author, with his first book being Why England Slept. This was his thesis during his senior year at Harvard College. In this book, he explored the reasons why England waited until it was too late to join WWII and stop appeasing the Nazis.

His book Profiles In Courage, written while he was a senator and first released on January 1st 1956, won him the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1957. I would describe this as essential reading for anyone interested in politics, history, and nonpartisanship!

4. The Kennedy family was dynamic, industrious, rich, and some say cursed.

I could write pages and pages on the exploits of this amazing family. Having come just a few generations from poor Irish Catholic immigrants, the Kennedy family rose to prominence not just in their home city of Boston, Massachusetts, but across the United States and the world. When it comes to John F. Kennedy though, much of the wealth and political favour he enjoyed came from his father, Joseph P. Kennedy.

Joe Kennedy was a prolific businessman, movie magnate, and stock trader who capitalized on the great market crash of 1929 while others lost out. He became the first chairman of the SEC, and was ambassador to the UK for then-president FDR. These incredible opportunities gave his children experiences few families have: private mansions, huge campaign budgets, and tea with royalty. JFK even received communion from the Pope himself, when he was a boy.

Sadly, the dynamism of the Kennedy family seems to be doled out in even parts with tragedy. Of course, JFK was assassinated on November 22nd, 1963. His older brother Joseph would be killed in a plane crash during WWII, and his sister Kathleen “Kick” was killed in a plane crash just a few years after. JFK’s brother Robert was also assassinated in 1968 while on the campaign trail, and his own son would die in a 1999 plane crash at the age of 38.

jfk family facts

4 JFK Facts Every Man Should Know – John F Kennedy

Few lights shine as bright as this special person who should be an inspiration to any man! Take a bit of JFK with you into your endeavours and daily life, and always remember to strive for the betterment of not just yourself – but your community, country and the world.

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