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Remembering John K. Kennedy

November 23, 2006

It has been more than 40 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963.

Americans who lived through the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 will never forget where they were when they first heard that terrible news. So it is for those who were living when JFK died.

For many who did not experience his time in office - and for some who did - what they remember is the tabloid-style gossip about his dalliances with women to whom he was not married.

There is that, but that is not all there is. Consider that Kennedy was one of the last presidents who proposed that Americans should sacrifice for the good of the nation.

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He also presided over what his official White House biography calls "the longest sustained (economic) expansion since World War II .."

And Kennedy challenged Americans to do good things for other countries by setting up the Peace Corps, in which volunteers would help others in poor nations learn such things as better farming practices.

He pledged that the nation would put a man on the moon and although he didn't live to see it, it happened.

His administration began the push for civil-rights legislation that President Lyndon Johnson followed up on. And, when the Russians placed missiles in communist Cuba, he faced them down and forced their removal.

Were there mistakes? Of course. Kennedy's decision to allow a group of volunteers to attempt an overthrow of Fidel Castro - the so-called "Bay of Pigs" invasion - was doomed from the beginning.

Kennedy was also a Pulitzer prize-winning author who penned "Profiles in Courage."

It takes a look at eight U.S. senators, including John Quincy Adams and Daniel Webster, who stood against the tide of popular opinion to do what they felt was right.

It is a history lesson, but also contains an extended introduction, in which JFK talks about, among other things, the art of compromise and its value in promoting progress.

It is a lesson the nation seems to have forgotten in the last few years as national politicians focused more on winning than on doing what was in the best interest of the nation and its citizens.

Today, as the U.S. faces challenges as daunting as those JFK faced, it wouldn't hurt us to think less about what benefits us personally and more about what's best for all.

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