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Dale Banham

Student Question: JFK's Greatest Achievement

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My Year 10 (aged 14-15) are now starting on a piece of coursework: 'Why is JFK remembered so positively?'. I have attached the questions they came up with in groups. Answers and different views from experts would be great for when we start back in September or for pupils to look at over the Summer.

Question: What was JFK’s greatest achievement?

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My Year 10 (aged 14-15) are now starting on a piece of coursework: 'Why is JFK remembered so positively?'. I have attached the questions they came up with in groups. Answers and different views from experts would be great for when we start back in September or for pupils to look at over the Summer.

Question: What was JFK’s greatest achievement?

I would say that JFK's greatest achievement in the eyes of history took place after his death. His successor, LBJ, through shrewdly using the obvious comparisons of the JFK assassination to the assassination of the great Republican Abraham Lincoln, was able to ensure Republican cooperation on much-needed civil rights legislation. Sadly, then, JFK's greatest achievement may have been his death.

On the other hand, one withdraws from making this claim because it may have the effect of giving co-credit to his murderer (s). So perhaps it should simply be stated that JFK and his brother Bobby's embrace of racism and prejudice as American problems and not just "colored" American problems, is his lasting legacy.

Edited by Pat Speer

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My Year 10 (aged 14-15) are now starting on a piece of coursework: 'Why is JFK remembered so positively?'. I have attached the questions they came up with in groups. Answers and different views from experts would be great for when we start back in September or for pupils to look at over the Summer.

Question: What was JFK’s greatest achievement?

I would say his ability to go against the counsel of his advisors during the Cuban Missile Crisis, which prevented a nuclear war. That, to my mind, was his peak achievement.

Martin Shackelford

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JFK's greatest achievement is certainly one of the 3 listed below; first I will give you 3 choices, and then I will indicate my possibly surprising selection:

(1) avoiding nuclear war with the USSR over the Cuban Missile Crisis;

(2) coming down firmly on the side of Civil Rights in 1963, including introducing the Civil Rights Act legislation that was later passed after his death;

(3) proposing and strongly supporting America's Moon landing program---Project Apollo.

My selection is the Apollo program, and here's why:

500 years from now, and perhaps 50 or even 100 years from now, America's Apollo Moon landing program will clearly be the most significant decision and/or act by JFK. By proposing and "selling" this program in the midst of a Cold War with the USSR, the American President indicated that he took the Cold War very seriously, that he was NOT an appeaser (as many Conservatives feared), and that he not only didn't mind, but welcomed competition with the USSR, as long as it was NOT on the battlefield. Although the origins of the Apollo program were 100% in America's Cold War competition with the USSR, its benefits were truly astounding in terms of technology boost, building excitement over Space Exploration, and its positive impact on the human spirit. It has also remained the quintissential symbol of what Americans---and humans, for that matter---can do if they have the will and dedicate the resources. In many ways the future of the human species will be determined by space exploration and space travel, and JFK's jumpstart certainly got us to the Moon 50 or 100 years before it would otherwise have happened, at a time when many feared the U.S. had already lost the Space Race, and that competition with the USSR was pointless.

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JFK's greatest achievement is certainly one of the 3 listed below; first I will give you 3 choices, and then I will indicate my possibly surprising selection:

(1) avoiding nuclear war with the USSR over the Cuban Missile Crisis;

(2) coming down firmly on the side of Civil Rights in 1963, including introducing the Civil Rights Act legislation that was later passed after his death;

(3) proposing and strongly supporting America's Moon landing program---Project Apollo.

My selection is the Apollo program, and here's why:

500 years from now, and perhaps 50 or even 100 years from now, America's Apollo Moon landing program will clearly be the most significant decision and/or act by JFK. By proposing and "selling" this program in the midst of a Cold War with the USSR, the American President indicated that he took the Cold War very seriously, that he was NOT an appeaser (as many Conservatives feared), and that he not only didn't mind, but welcomed competition with the USSR, as long as it was NOT on the battlefield. Although the origins of the Apollo program were 100% in America's Cold War competition with the USSR, its benefits were truly astounding in terms of technology boost, building excitement over Space Exploration, and its positive impact on the human spirit. It has also remained the quintissential symbol of what Americans---and humans, for that matter---can do if they have the will and dedicate the resources. In many ways the future of the human species will be determined by space exploration and space travel, and JFK's jumpstart certainly got us to the Moon 50 or 100 years before it would otherwise have happened, at a time when many feared the U.S. had already lost the Space Race, and that competition with the USSR was pointless.

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I would have to say that JFK's greatest achievment was the avoiding the Cuban Missile Crisis. The tension that Americans felt during that time period cannot be put into words that would do it justice. Tornado siren testing was suspended because they did not want to terrify the public. People were listening to their radios to find out if there was going to be a nuclear war or not.

I do not agree with the 1963 civil rights act. LBJ used the death of a beloved president to pass this bill. LBJ basically said that the best thing that congress could do to remember the slain president was to pass this bill. So I guess that in a round-about way JFK is responsible for it, but not in a way that most people would want to take credit for.

JFK's greatest achievement is certainly one of the 3 listed below; first I will give you 3 choices, and then I will indicate my possibly surprising selection:

(1) avoiding nuclear war with the USSR over the Cuban Missile Crisis;

(2)  coming down firmly on the side of Civil Rights in 1963, including introducing the Civil Rights Act legislation that was later passed after his death;

(3)  proposing and strongly supporting America's Moon landing program---Project Apollo.

My selection is the Apollo program, and here's why:

500 years from now, and perhaps 50 or even 100 years from now, America's Apollo Moon landing program will clearly be the most significant decision and/or act by JFK.  By proposing and "selling" this program in the midst of a Cold War with the USSR, the American President indicated that he took the Cold War very seriously, that he was NOT an appeaser (as many Conservatives feared),  and that he not only didn't mind, but welcomed competition with the USSR, as long as it was NOT on the battlefield.  Although the origins of the Apollo program were 100% in America's Cold War competition with the USSR, its benefits were truly astounding in terms of technology boost, building excitement over Space Exploration, and its positive impact on the human spirit.  It has also remained the quintissential symbol of what Americans---and humans, for that matter---can do if they have the will and dedicate the resources.  In many ways the future of the human species will be determined by space exploration and space travel, and JFK's jumpstart certainly got us to the Moon 50 or 100 years before it would otherwise have happened, at a time when many feared the U.S. had already lost the Space Race, and that competition with the USSR was pointless.

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