Tuesday marks 48 years since the 35th president of the United States, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated. President Kennedy served less than three years in office, but he made a strong mark. Here, we reflect on some of the most notable moments of his presidency.
January 20, 1961: Mr. Kennedy is sworn in as president of the United States after defeating Republican Vice President Richard Nixon in one of the closest elections in U.S. history. During his inaugural address, he delivers a call to action still quoted today: “Ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.”
March 1, 1961: President Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps by executive order. During the past 50 years, the Peace Corps has sent more than 200,000 volunteers to nearly 140 countries to help in areas including education, health and agriculture. Part of the organization's mission is to promote better understanding between Americans and other peoples.
April 17, 1961: About 1,500 CIA-trained Cuban exiles land on Cuba's southern coast in hopes of overthrowing the island's communist leader, Fidel Castro. Mr. Castro was warned of the Bay of Pigs invasion, and his forces killed or captured most of the invaders. President Kennedy took responsibility for the botched operation, which many Cuban exiles blamed on him, saying he did not provide enough support.
May 25, 1961: President Kennedy announces before Congress the ambitious goal of sending an American safely to the moon before the end of the decade. Eight years later, in July 1969, that dream becomes a reality when Apollo 11 becomes the first manned mission to land on the moon and astronaut Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to walk on its surface.
October 1962: A U.S. spy plane snaps photographs that show the Soviet Union is building nuclear missile sites in Cuba. President Kennedy decides to use a naval blockade, what he called a “quarantine,” to prevent more Soviet ships from reaching Cuba and demands the Soviets withdraw the missiles already there. The tense days of negotiations that followed became known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. The crisis raised fears of nuclear war, but ended peacefully when the Soviets agreed to remove the missiles in exchange for a U.S. pledge not to invade Cuba. In a move kept secret from the public, President Kennedy also agreed to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey.
August 5, 1963: Under President Kennedy's leadership, the United States signs an agreement with the Soviet Union and Britain to ban the testing of nuclear weapons under water, in the earth's atmosphere and in space, while allowing tests to continue underground. The Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty followed eight years of negotiations between the three nations.
November 22, 1963: President Kennedy is fatally shot in Dallas, Texas, while traveling with his wife and the state governor in an open-air convertible. Vice President Lyndon Johnson is sworn in as president aboard the presidential plane Air Force One just hours after the assassination.