5 Things We Can Learn From John F. Kennedy

It’s been nearly 60 years since John F. Kennedy ’s untimely assassination . Still, after all this time, there are some important lessons we can learn from this former president. A man who wasn’t afraid to stick his neck out for his fellow Americans or to stand for beliefs larger than himself, these are just a few of the ways we’re still learning from him.

#1 Stand for What’s Right

One of the most remarkable moves JFK ever made was his Civil Rights address. His presidency took place during a turbulent time and for a long time, Martin Luther King. Jr and Malcolm X were the two largest names fighting for black people’s rights. It was impossible for JFK not to notice their impact and he addressed his nation on the very topic.

He made it known that “this nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” He also reminded America that everyone should enjoy the privileges of being American “without regard to his race or his color.”

He also delivered a speech on the Cuban Missile Crisis, urging others to recognize basic links humanity has to each other. He mentioned how our differences shouldn’t separate us and that genuine peace is formed by nations coming together.

#2 Wow a Crowd

It’s no surprise to anyone that JFK was a phenomenal speaker. While the thought of public speaking puts many in a cold sweat, the former president was always capable of delivering powerful speeches to the masses. From his body language to the very words themselves, JFK’s speeches have lived on in history and our hearts for several decades.  By watching what he accomplished, it’s not hard to pick up a few public speaking tips from someone who did it best.

#3 It’s Okay to Look Good

Among other things, JFK was also well-known for his hair and standout style. Fashionista has described his style as “eerily modern” even after all this time, which is completely fair. From his perfectly tailored suits to his impeccable hairdo, JFK can still go down as a fashion icon of today. It never hurts to look good when you’re the president.

#4 Reading is Important

JFK was a well-known reader. He’d burn through newspapers and books whenever he could. (It was reported that he was a speed reader and could sometimes go through multiple newspapers a day.) In fact, he was reading novels about politics and the world when he was still a boy. Some of his favorite works were Pilgrim’s Way and From Russia With Love. 

In a 1962 interview, he admitted that while it’s unpleasant to keep up with the news sometimes, he believed it to be an important part of the presidency. “I would say that it is an invaluable arm of the presidency, as a check really on what is going on in the administration, and more things come to my attention that cause me concern or give me information.”

#5 Own Your Mistakes

As much as he did for the world, it’s important to note that JFK was far from a perfect human. His legacy is still attached to labels like “womanizer” or even “addiction.” The New York Times published in 2007 that records showed JFK took “codeine, Demerol and methadone for pain; Ritalin, a stimulant; meprobamate and librium for anxiety; barbiturates for sleep; thyroid hormone; and injections of a blood derivative, gamma globulin, presumably to combat infections.”

His less-than-savory personality traits also lie in his treatment of women. In These Few Precious Days: The Final Year of Jack with Jackie, author Christopher Andersen wrote how Jackie Kennedy would handle her husband’s infidelity. His affair with famed actress Marilyn Monroe seemed to get under her skin the most. Their affair was also widely covered in the media.