John F. Kennedy has long been known as one of America's favorite presidents. He was young, he was charismatic, and he was a big proponent of the Civil Rights Movement. While his personal life might have been a bit controversial at times (we're looking at you, Marilyn Monroe), he is still held in high esteem as one of the most influential and well-liked presidents in the country's history. Here are four things you didn't know about him.
He received last rites four times
Like several other presidents before him, John F. Kennedy spent much of his life concealing health problems. He was very sickly as a child and into his adulthood, and this sickliness was well-hidden by his friends and family, who went to great lengths to help him to appear healthy. There were a few times, though, that his conditions were thought to be so life-threatening that a priest was called in to give him Last Rites. In 1947, he received the Last Rites when he was diagnosed with Addison's disease while traveling in England. Just four years later he received them again when he came down with a dangerously high fever in Japan. Three years after that, he fell into a coma after having back surgery and received his Last Rites again, and he got them one final time on the day of his assassination in November 1963.
He wrote books and won a Pulitzer Prize
While everyone knows John F. Kennedy as a politician, not many people know that he was a writer too. He wrote his first book, titled Why England Slept, when he was just 22 years old. After that, he wrote for the newspaper, covering such topics as a United Nations conference in San Francisco and the lingering effects of World War II in Europe. In the 1950s, he wrote another book titled Profiles in Courage, which won a Pulitzer Prize for best biography, but it is debated whether or not this one was actually written by his aide instead.
He was a war hero, even if he lied to get into the military
Due to the medical problems mentioned earlier on this list, Kennedy was not capable of passing the physical examination necessary to enter the U.S. military. Since the proper route wasn't available to him, he instead used the influence (and fortune) of his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, to buy him a position as an officer in the navy. Once he was in, though, he proved that he really was worthy of the position when he was made commander of a patrol boat that was attacked near the Solomon Islands. When the boat went down, Kennedy and his crew swam for more than 3 miles to get to a nearby island, where they all managed to survive for seven days until they were rescued. He also received a Purple Heart after being wounded in action in 1943.
He recorded White House conversations
Long before this current era where everything is recorded by smartphones and cameras, JFK installed the White House's first taping system to record meetings and conversations that took place there. Some say that he merely wanted to record what went on in the White House so he could better write his memoirs at a later date, but his personal secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, claims he had a different reason. She has said that Kennedy was "enraged" by his advisors saying one thing in meetings and then denying they said it later, so he wanted to capture all of their conversations on tape to keep everyone honest.