Skip to main content

Overrated & Underrated

May 2024
1min read

The critical remarks about JFK simply missed the point. Nobody, even the most devout Kennedyite, can gloss over the failures of the Kennedy administration. But the fact is that John F. Kennedy’s real contribution to American history will always be the public spirit of his administration—not the cosmetic spirit of Camelot. This is what those who heard his first inauguration speech passed on to their children. The vision Kennedy gave to Americans (and bequeathed to them after Dallas) was that it was their civic duty—an honorable duty—to serve their country and to better the lot of those who were less fortunate than they.

It was this selfless spirit that led to the freedom marches in the South, the civic martyrdom of Schwerner, Chancy, and Goodman, and the birth of the Peace Corps. Later it contributed to the end of the Vietnam War, when those who were mere children when JFK was President reached political maturity.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this magazine of trusted historical writing, now in its 75th year, and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.

Donate