Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Some you know, some I betcha don't

John F.  Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, would have been 95 years old on May 29th.

1. A wreath was laid on his grave at the Arlington Cemetery in Arlington, VA on his birthday earlier this week. (See the Arlington Cemetery’s album of the ceremony on Facebook, here, and a video of the ceremony on MSNBC, here.)

2. Ted Sorenson, Kennedy’s good friend and speech writer, is considered one of the best Presidential speech writers ever.
When asked whether he or Kennedy was responsible for the phrase most identified with President Kennedy — from his inaugural speech in 1961:
Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,
Sorenson invariably replied “ask not.”
(See Ted Sorenson’s obituary in the Boston Globe, here.)

3. JFK and the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, have more than a few things in common:
  •  they entered office exactly 100 years apart (in 1960 and 1860, respectively);
  • they were each elected to Congress exactly 100 years apart (1946 and 1846, respectively);
  • President Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy and President Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln — Lincoln’s secretary is said to have warned him not to go to the theater and Kennedy’s secretary supposedly cautioned him against going to Dallas;
  • both were succeeded by presidents named Johnson (Lyndon B. Johnson and Andrew Johnson);
  • both were assassinated on a Friday by a shot to the head
  • both perpetrators (Lee Harvey Oswald and John Wilkes Booth) were assassinated before reaching trial
For more coincidences, see the list on Snopes, here.

4. Classic photo of John F. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy, Jr. at the White House (for more JFK images, visit Celebrating JFK’s birthday with some rare photos of the man (30 photos) on The Chive.

5. Would the Crimson admit JFK today? JFK’s application to Harvard University was recently released; he wrote a one paragraph essay in response to the question “Why do you wish to come to Harvard?”
"The reasons that I have for wanting to go to Harvard are several. I feel that Harvard can give me a better background and a better liberal education than any other university. I have always wanted to go there, as I have felt that it is not just another college, but is a university with something definite to offer. Then to, I would like to go to the same college as my father. To be a ‘Harvard man’ is an enviable distinction, and one that I sincerely hope I shall attain."
See the full article on, here.

6. He once said, “Liberty without learning is always in peril; learning without liberty is always in vain.”  The quote comes from the Vanderbilt University 90th Anniversary Convocation Address he gave in May, 1963.

7. “A Thousand Days” is a 20 minute archival documentary of JFK’s time in office, produced by the U.S. Information Agency. You can find it here, and select clips on The Atlantic, here.

8. During World War II while serving in the United States Navy, Kennedy’s boat, the PT-109, was rammed by a Japanese destroyer and cut in half. Kennedy, who had once been on Harvard’s swim team, towed one crew member too badly injured to swim three and half miles to the nearest land mass. Eventually, Kennedy scratched a message on a coconut shell and persuaded some natives to take it with them in their canoe to the nearest base. They were rescued soon after. Read about the entire adventure at Smithsonian Magazine, here.
The coconut shell, which Kennedy had made into a paperweight, reads 
Nauru Isl commander / native knows posit / he can pilot / 11 alive need small boat / Kennedy.”

9. The most famous association made with Kennedy’s birthday is of course Marilyn Monroe’s performance of “Happy Birthday” in 1962, which you can see on Youtube, here.