John F. Kennedy


John F. Kennedy was amongst the most respected, loved, and remembered American Presidents of all time, and it is fair to say that no President has ever had a life and career which attracts such a huge fascination as that of John F Kennedy[1], and thus his assassination was amongst the most mourned internationally in history. So much so was his popularity, that he was often favourably compared with that of the late Pope John XXIII, who is considered one of the greatest world leaders[2] especially in the 20th century. Even in Australia alone there were feelings that even ‘the loss of the entire British Royalty would not have affected [Australians] so deeply and personally[3]’ as the loss of John Kennedy. Throughout the world Kennedy has become in many ways, the very embodiment of 1960’s America. His name is linked with the chaotic events which marked the opening years of the 1960’s era – particularly the 1962 Cuba missile crisis. Furthermore, he had become for millions the symbol of a brighter future[4] and the embodiment of hope for the world’s population. JFK was the man who averted a nuclear catastrophe, campaigned for black rights, attempted to dissolve American involvement in Vietnam, and bring down the Berlin wall[5]. Above all that, he was a strong Catholic role model[6] for millions who represented the romantic, domestic, and political ideal in an unstable world[7], and allowed a global people to feel as if they could relate to him personally. Kennedy’s whole persona was based on a youthful, exuberant, charismatic, brilliant, courageous, and glamorous approach. He was the youngest President to be elected to office[8], and thus all of these combined allowed people all around the world to want to trust him even though they had never met him, and never would. As such, he won international favour – from all walks of life – even socialists regarded him in high favour. As a result of this, his death struck so suddenly and powerfully that people internationally mourned him the same as they would a loved one as the loss of a loved family member. This was due to his popularity literally penetrating into the personal lives of not only Americans, but Europeans, Australians, and Russians alike. Kennedy for millions was something other than just a political leader of a foreign country[9], but the leader of the free world. Kennedy had become the leader of other world states as he, not the British Prime Minister, or any other European leader made the basic decisions of life and nuclear death when they were most important[10]. The more people admired Kennedy, the more they were likely to be alone after his death. For example 51% of Negroes and 28% of southern whites who were opposed to Kennedy in 1960 said they felt more like being by themselves[11]. Furthermore, many people who were surveyed throughout the world claimed that they could not recall a time when they had felt the same sort of feelings as they did when they heard of the death of John Kennedy. Of those who could, they usually referred to the death of a parent, a close family relative, or a friend[12]. This was part of the mentality of Kennedy being apart of the family unit or a close friend, thus being irreplaceable, making many people many people feel as if they could not move on after his death.


To Europeans, JFK’s image as the young, charming, modern, compassionate, and very capable leader of the world’s most dominant world power, led them to view him as a symbol of their own hopes and aspirations[13] which were based on stabilisation in global politics, and the ending of bitter disputes, rivalries, and segregations. Unfortunately they were not able to be completed due to his life, and presidential career being cut short as a result of his sudden death. Such things as the tearing down of the Berlin wall, the devolvement of the Vietnam War, and the conclusion of the bitter rivalry between the capitalist and communist systems were among the many hopes and aspirations many Europeans had for Kennedy. His speech in Berlin with which he identified himself with the people in his famous line ‘Ich bin ein Berliner[14]’ drew huge applause