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A spirit that is not afraid

Leaders we admire on the other side: President John F. Kennedy

It is not every day that a Republican talks about a Democrat he admires.

Today, though, I will be doing just that.

The 35th president of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, is a Democrat that I will be celebrating in this piece.

It is true that many Americans list him as one of their favorite presidents for his style and general “coolness,” and I believe it is also true that his image is one of the most recognizable when it comes to the presidency.

My adulation, I hope, may go a bit deeper than that by presenting to the reader why I, a red-blooded Republican, admire this Democrat.

John F. Kennedy is one of the 26 U.S. presidents that fought in a war.

Moreover, he was one of only a handful who served in WWII.

A willingness to fight and die for his country is something to be admired in a president no matter the political party to which he belongs.

Kennedy’s service in that war was nothing short of heroic.

After his PT boat was rammed by the Japanese, Kennedy spent hours swimming wounded sailors ashore before any other aid arrived.

This demonstrates a certain selfless quality that I find very compelling. Kennedy’s pre-president years were also filled with an abundant amount of writing.

Kennedy even won a Pulitzer Prize. Many presidents have written books, but none of them have had the distinction of winning this award except for him.

Now, I’m not necessarily pro-Catholic or anti-Catholic.

However, I do recognize the importance of Kennedy being the first (and only so far) Irish-Catholic being elected president. For a long time Americans were distrustful of Catholics (and Catholics gaining positions of power) for fear of them putting the Papacy’s agenda over that of the American citizenry.

Anyone who has seen the 19th century period movie “Gangs of New York” starring Daniel Day Lewis will know what I’m talking about. Kennedy put these old fears to rest, however, and I believe he contributed greatly to the story of the Irish in America.

Kennedy died six years before NASA finally put a man on the moon, but without him it probably would not have happened.

To many Americans, Kennedy’s presidency is synonymous with the beginning of the victorious space race over the Communists. I think this is one of the greatest facets of his legacy.

He devoted funding to space exploration and technology while paving the way for American dominance of the skies.

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In 1961 Kennedy delivered his famous, “we choose to go to the moon speech,” and before the end of the decade, families around America huddled around their tiny living room TVs to watch Neil Armstrong step off the Apollo 11 Eagle and into history.

Ultimately, there have been few presidents that could captivate the hearts, minds and imaginations of Americans like John F. Kennedy did.

It is not simply just for his cultural and innovative qualities that I extol this Democrat.

On the contrary, his accomplishments as a person are something to marvel at. Because of this, if there is a Democrat that I choose to emulate and admire, it is definitely President John F. Kennedy.

The views expressed in columns do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Auburn Plainsman.

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