Over 50 years after the Kennedy Brothers rose to political power in the United States, the name Kennedy remains the nation's most famous political name. From curse to Camelot, the word evokes poignant memories of young men holding great promise, their ill-fated destinies, and their grasp on both political power and the national conscience. At the same time, each brother was his own man, and they all offered America something different.
In many ways, John Fitzgerald Kennedy and his young family were the perfect embodiment of the '60s. The decade began with a sense of idealism, personified by the attractive Kennedy, his beautiful and fashionable wife Jackie, and his young children. Months into his presidency, Kennedy exhorted the country to reach for the stars, calling upon the nation to send a man to the Moon and back by the end of the decade. In 1961, Kennedy made it seem like anything was possible, and Americans were eager to believe him. The Kennedy years were fondly and famously labeled "Camelot", by Jackie herself, suggesting an almost mythical quality about the young president and his family.
As it turned out, the '60s closely reflected the glossy, idealistic portrayal of John F. Kennedy, as well as the uglier truths. The country would achieve Kennedy's goal of a manned moon mission, and the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 finally guaranteed minorities their civil rights and restored equality, ensuring that the country "would live out the true meaning of its creed". But the idealism and optimism of the decade was quickly shattered, starting with Kennedy's assassination in 1963. The '60s were permanently marred by the Vietnam War, and by the time Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., were assassinated in 1968, the country was irreversibly jaded.
©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors
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