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The Centennial of President John F. Kennedy’s Birth

May 25, 2017

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President John F. Kennedy

Inaugurated in 1961, John F. Kennedy (May 29, 1917–Nov. 22, 1963) became the 35th and youngest president ever elected to the presidency. The country was entranced by his charisma, his stylish wife Jackie and their two small children—the first young family to live in the White House since Theodore Roosevelt’s administration 60 years before.

Kennedy’s agenda promised new opportunities in an age of accelerating challenges. Yet his initiatives and reforms for containing the Cold War, increasing civil rights and exploring space never came to fruition during his presidency, which was cut short by an assassin’s bullet. Still, his legacy lived on in such initiatives as the Peace Corps and in the space program, which saw the nation answer Kennedy’s call to action in 1969, when Americans walked on the moon.

The portrait pictured here is featured in the National Portrait Gallery’s "Celebrate" space through July 9, 2017, as part of the observance of the 100th anniversary of Kennedy’s birth.

To see more about Kennedy, visit the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s exhibition “American Visionary: John F. Kennedy's Life and Times” through Sept. 17, 2017; the National Museum of American History’s exhibition “JFK Centennial Celebration,” an exhibition of nine photos by Richard Avedon, through Aug. 27, 2017; and the Smithsonian’s “Spotlight” collection of images of JFK from across the Smithsonian.