John F Kennedy was born into a wealthy, politically connected Boston family of Irish-Catholics. He and his eight siblings enjoyed the privileged childhood of elite private schools, sailboats, servants and summer homes.
During his childhood and youth, "Jack" Kennedy suffered from frequent serious illnesses. Nevertheless, he attempted to forge his own path, writing a best-selling book while in college at Harvard, and volunteering for dangerous combat duty in the Pacific during World War II. Kennedy's wartime service made him a hero.
After a short stint as a journalist, Kennedy entered politics, serving in the US House of Representatives from 1947 to 1953 and in the US Senate from 1953 to 1961.
Kennedy was the youngest person elected US President and the first Roman Catholic to serve in that office. To many observers, his presidency came to represent the rise of youth idealism after World War II. The promise of this energetic and telegenic leader was not to be fulfilled, as he was assassinated at the end of his third year in office.
For many Americans, the public assassination of President Kennedy remains one of the most traumatic events in memory – countless Americans can remember exactly where they were when they heard President Kennedy was shot. His shocking death was at the fore of political and social instability in the country and the world.