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November 22, 1963. That date “lives” in history books like the one in which President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, one of three U.S. sitting presidents to be killed.
Kennedy grew up in the “lap of luxury.” But, even at an early age, he felt a commitment to his country and served in World War II s a Navy Lieutenant. He entered politics at a relatively young age and was ultimately elected President in the November 1960 election, taking office in January 1961. His presidency was short-lived when he was assassinated in 1963. The official conclusion was that he was killed by a lone shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, who opposed Kennedy’s efforts to remove Fidel Castro, the Communist dictator of Cuba. But conspiracy theories about this assassination are “alive and well” today, and there is evidence to support some of those theories.
Writing an essay about JFK is a wide-ranging area, and, if you have been assigned such an essay, be prepared to do some research.
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You already know the basic structure of an essay – introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. This does not change when writing a biographical or historical essay. But there will certainly be research involved.
The key to an effective essay will be the development of a thesis statement. If, for example, you are writing a biographical essay about JFK, what overriding principles or values did he exhibit? One possibility might be this: “As an adult, JFK had an abiding passion for being of service to others.” Your body paragraphs, then, will provide examples that support that thesis statement.
For example, he joined the Navy during World War II; he represented his Massachusetts district in the House of Representatives and then the entire state as a Senator. As President, he focused on civil rights, serving the interests of America in the Cold War, and reigning in corporate power over the “little guy.”
If you choose a more specific event, such as the assassination, and you choose to take an argumentative position on an alternate theory, then your thesis statement might read: “While the official version of the JFK assassination was that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, there is sufficient evidence to provide alternatives to this version.”
A simple Google search will give you any number of sample JFK essays, both biographical and historical. These will give you some good ideas for resources and the thoughts of others on the topic you have chosen. Just be mindful that your essay must be an original, one that you have crafted after doing your research, developing your own opinions, and presenting those in your own style and voice.
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