President John F. Kennedy

For his Navy service during World War II, his time in Congress and his work as the nation's commander in chief, Kennedy received the Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 1961. When a busy schedule kept him from attending the second annual Washington Conference, nearly 1,000 Legionnaires traveled to the White House to bestow the honor on him.

The organization's resolution credited Kennedy, a member of Crosscup-Pishon Post 281 in Boston, for "his analytical mind, personal industry and dedication to the fulfillment of America's high purposes," and for "rallying the forces of freedom not only to stem the advance of a deadly and determined foe but also to ensure the survival and the success of a free society both at home and around the world."

Receiving the medal from his fellow Legionnaires, Kennedy declared that the United States had a charge to defend freedom around the world: "No American citizen should feel that this country is not making a major effect in the cause of freedom."

Kennedy served in the White House during tumultuous times, including the civil-rights movement and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Most people alive at the time remember the oft-quoted charge of his 1961 inaugural address: "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." Those same people likely remember where they were the day of Kennedy's assassination on Nov. 22, 1963.

As the youngest man elected to the country's highest office, the youngest to die, at 46, and the first Roman Catholic in the White House, Kennedy's presidency was historic. He commanded a PT boat in World War II, and received a Purple Heart and other honors. After the war, he served in the U.S. House from 1947 to 1953, representing Massachusetts' 11th District. He moved to the Senate from 1953 to 1960, resigning after his election to the presidency.

Kennedy received a Pulitzer Prize for "Profiles in Courage," which he wrote while recuperating from surgery for chronic back problems.

For more on Kennedy, click here (http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/johnfkennedy).

 

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