John F. Kennedy

When John F. Kennedy ( 1917-63) took the oath of office on January 20, 1961, he was, at forty-three, the youngest man ever elected President. He was also one of the wittiest. To a friend he once gave a silver beer mug with the following inscription on it:

There are three things which are real:

God, human folly and laughter.

The first two are beyond our comprehension

So we must do what we can with the third. 1

Kennedy's wit was not folksy like Lincoln's. It was plainer, directer, more urbane. But like Lincoln's it sometimes had ironic overtones and was wryly self-deprecating. And like Lincoln, JFK was bored by self-righteousness, false humility, and garrulousness. "It's a gift," said Arthur Krock. "He doesn't know how to be stuffy."2

Kennedy served in the navy during World War II. He was proud of his war record but never bragged about it. "Mr. President," a high school boy once asked him, "how did you become a war hero?" "It was absolutely involuntary," Kennedy responded. "They sank my boat." 3 Interviewed by Edward R. Murrow on television in the late 1950s, he called it "an interesting experience.""Interesting," murmured Murrow. "I should think that would be one of the great understatements."4 There has been some disagreement as to how much of a war hero Kennedy was during World War II, but this


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Presidential Anecdotes
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 451

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?