Nov. 22 marks the 53rdh anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and half a century later he’s still among the most popular presidents of all-time. Instead of rehashing the facts you already know about the 35th president, I thought I’d share a few lesser known facts about JFK.
He was the only president to earn a Purple Heart
Kennedy was awarded the Purple Heart (given to those wounded or killed while serving in the military) for his heroic service in the Pacific during World War II. In 1943, while serving in the Navy in WWII, J.F.K. narrowly avoided death when his ship was sunk by a Japanese destroyer. Despite terrible injuries, he led the survivors through dangerous waters to safety.
He donated his full presidential salary to charity
John F. Kennedy was the first Boy Scout to become president
He was a lifelong supporter of Scouting, saying the following during his presidency: “For more than 50 years, Scouting has played an important part in the lives of the Boy Scouts of this nation. It has helped to mold character, to form friendships, to provide a worthwhile outlet for the natural energies of growing boys, and to train these boys to become good citizens of the future.”
He was the only president to win a Pulitzer Prize
His book, Profiles in Courage, won the 1957 Pulitzer Prize (awarded for excellence in literature). The book was a series of short biographies that described acts of bravery and integrity by eight U.S. Senators throughout American history.
He was an exercise enthusiast
As a youth, JFK played football, basketball and baseball. During his presidency he swam almost daily in the White House pool. He was also an advocate for youth athletics. In Dec. 1960, Kennedy appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, and wrote an article on the importance of exercise, sports and physical activity among young people.
“We do not want our children to become a generation of spectators. Rather, we want each of them to be a participant in the vigorous life.”
He was a speed talker
Kennedy could speak at about 350 words per minute, and still hold the world record for rate of speaking speed. During a speech in 1961, he spoke 327 words in just one minute.
He was also a speed reader
An avid reader, JFK could read approximately 2,500 words per minute, nearly 10 times the average. In fact, he would reportedly read six newspapers every morning at breakfast cover to cover.
In high school, he was voted most likely to succeed
According to his high school yearbook, during his senior year Kennedy was voted by classmates as “Most Likely to Succeed.” For more on Kennedy’s school days, including his grades and essays, click here.
Even when he was a 10-year-old Boy Scout, John F. Kennedy was already using his famous eloquence. In the following letter he makes a very organized, straight-forward case to his father for a raise in allowance. The reason? To be better ‘Prepared’ as a new Boy Scout.
My recent allowance is 40 cents. This I used for aeroplanes and other playthings of childhood, but now I am a Scout and I put away my childish things. Before I would spend 20 cents of my 40 cents allowance, and in five minutes I would have empty pockets and nothing to gain and 20 cents to lose.
When I am a Scout I have to buy canteens, haversacks, blankets, searchlights, a poncho — things that will last for years and I can always use while I can’t use chocolate marshmallow sundae ice cream, and so I put in my plea for a raise of 30 cents for me to buy Scout things and pay my own way around …