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This article is the continuation of my series If They Had Lived. The first article explored what our world and/or nation might be like if Martin Luther King Jr. had survived. In this article, we will consider what would our nation would look like if John F. Kennedy (JFK) had lived? Imagine if our 35th President of the United States was never assassinated, or survived the assassination attempt against him, and lived to fulfill his destiny. What would our world look like if JFK had lived?
Kennedy’s tenure as the U.S. Commander-in-Chief may have been short-lived, but his impact was undeniable and the legacy he left behind is indelible. Some of the hallmark events incurred during his presidency included the Age of Camelot, Cuban Missile Crisis, The Bay of Pigs Invasion, developments in the Space Race, construction of the Berlin Wall, and the Civil Rights Movement. Meanwhile, some of his signature legislation included the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1963), formation of the Peace Corps (1961), and the “New Frontier” domestic program, which, ironically, proved to be a self-fulfilling prophecy in the wake of his assassination as liberal leader referred to a new “frontier of unknown opportunities and perils–a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats,” all occurred during his presidency. He introduced his New Frontier concept at the 1960 Democratic National Convention (DNC), which set the stage for his presidency, from his oath of office in January 1961 until his death on Nov. 22, 1963.
Among his other various accomplishments, JFK was the youngest man to have been elected to the Oval Office and the second-youngest president to occupy the office. This is because Theodore Roosevelt, who served as our 26th President of the United States (1901-1908), was only 42 when he assumed the office, following the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901. Moreover, Kennedy was also the first U.S. president born in the 20th Century. Furthermore, the former PT-109 commander has been the only Roman Catholic and Pulitzer Prize-winning president to date. He won the prestigious award for his biography, Profiles in Courage (1956). That being said, imagine all that Kennedy might have accomplished if he had lived.
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
—John F. Kennedy
For instance, if JFK had lived, I imagine he would have not only completed an extraordinary first term as president but also easily won re-election for a second term in 1964. The Age of Camelot, as well as, the tremendous popularity of the Kennedys would have continued throughout his likely second-term and far beyond. Even in his death, the legacy of JFK and the Kennedy Family has endured. The continuing fascination with this privileged yet approachable American dynasty has captivated people all over the globe for decades. Moreover, their legacy and the admiration it evokes has made them not only celebrities but American royalty. Furthermore, the family’s paradoxical nature of robust success and tragic circumstance has endeared them to the global community.
Many speculate whether the assassination of John F. Kennedy triggered what many conspiracy theorists consider “the Kennedy curse.” For it was after JFK’s death in 1963 that his brother and U.S. Attorney General Robert (“Bobby”) Kennedy was assassinated in 1968 while a top contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. The family’s misfortune continued in earnest as the 1969 Chappaquiddick incident placed Senator Ted Kennedy behind the wheel when his car drove off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, which trapped and killed his young colleague, Mary Jo Kopechne. This was followed by the 1999 death of John F. Kennedy, Jr. and his wife, Caroline, when their plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. The cause of the plane crash was determined to be pilot error and spatial disorientation.
The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth.
—John F. Kennedy
These were just a few of the tragedies that have plagued the beloved and beleaguered family over the decades. However, it was, in fact, the death of eldest Kennedy son and JFK’s brother, Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., on Aug. 12, 1944, when his plane exploded over East Suffolk, England, as part of the top-secret WWII mission, Project Anvil, that resulted in JFK being thrust into the political spotlight and all the hopes of his family were shifted onto him.
With the death of JFK, the hopes and dreams of a nation were shattered. The Age of Camelot came to an end and the country descended into a state of mourning. The accomplishments achieved by the Brookline, Massachusetts-born, Catholic forward-thinker during his 34 months in office were extraordinary and the feats he could have attained if he had survived were limitless. While we will never know JFK’s full potential, his lasting legacy remains deeply ingrained in the fabric of our nation. This liberal-minded Democrat proved to be a force of nature who energized his political party and inspired legions of voters across diverse backgrounds. What would our world look like if John F. Kennedy had lived? We will likely never know the answer but we can envision a nation based upon the principles he held dear, and imagine what our world might be like if JFK’s potential was fully realized. Stay tuned to Guardian Liberty Voice for more articles in my continuing series, If They Had Lived.
Opinion and Blog Written & Edited by Leigh Haugh
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