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President John F. Kennedy, 1961 (Abbie Rowe/JFK Library)
John F. Kennedy was born 100 years ago and died in 1963. But many historians, scholars, journalists, and ordinary citizens still grapple with both the man and the myth. He is etched in the minds of millions of Americans as a handsome, brilliant young president whose potential was cut short by an assassin's bullets. His inaugural address is considered a model of presidential oratory, and his roles during the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the Cuban Missile Crisis are still analyzed by historians as prime examples of both failed and successful presidential leadership. His call to national service, support of the moon landing, and belated but powerful endorsement of the Civil Rights movement are landmarks of the American presidency in the 20th century.
The abrupt end to his life before he was able to complete his ambitious agenda left open the question of what might have been.
Tonight, Ken Walsh, chief White House correspondent for U.S. News & World Report and author of eight books about the presidency, considers JFK’s 1,000 days in office, his legacy, and whether any president could ever again attain the mystique of John F. Kennedy.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
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Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)