Sadly, younger generations only think of him in terms of his serial philandering and assassination. I keep learning more about this man even years after I first knew about him. Was he perfect? Hardly. He was a lousy husband (but good father), and like many men of power, he could use people. But he also inspired loyalty and wanted to leave the world a better place.
He enjoyed presidential power but also wanted to use it to help people. An ardent Cold Warrior at the beginning of his Presidency, he had been shaken staring down into the nuclear abyss during the Cuban Missile Crisis like any sane man and negotiated the Test Ban Treaty that banned nuclear testing in the atmosphere and explored a possible detente with Khrushchev and the Soviet Union before his death. He pushed for what became Medicaid and once he decided to back civil rights despite the political risks, he was all in. He made a National Park out of a section of the Cape Cod seashore to save it from exploitation from development and was working with Silent Spring's Rachel Carson on more environmental issues.
For years people have said we don't know if he would have gotten us out of Vietnam. Well, NSM #263 did state a goal of withdrawing 1,000 American advisers by the end of 1963 and complete withdrawal of all Americans by 1965. Of course that order was quietly rescinded just a few days after his death.
He was going to cut the oil men's depletion allowance and had plans to dismantle the CIA.
You connect the dots.
Fifty-six years ago on a Friday, as people looked forward to Thanksgiving and the holiday season, Dealey Plaza and Dallas happened. :(
RIP, Mr. President.
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