Born 50 years ago, on November 25, 1960 in Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D. C., John F. Kennedy Jr. entered the world. It had only been sixteen days after his father, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was elected to the United States Presidency by a popular vote percentage of 49.7%. Over the decades, everyone is aware of the events that marked the highs and lows of the Kennedy presidency from 1961 to 1963. However, it was John Kennedy Jr., who would capture the world’s attention from the moment of his birth and beyond.
There were a various delightful moments involved young ‘John-John’, as John F. Kennedy Jr., was fondly nicknamed by the media. From his birth in November 1960, he was in the limelight, his every public appearance a joy for the American people. Seeing him run out to greet his father’s arrival off a helicopter at the back at the White House is a moment understood by all parents.
Photographers captured some timeless shots such as John-John hiding under his father desk in the Oval Office. Everything John-John and his sister, Caroline, did made the news. It also presented the ‘first family’ as America’s ideal family.
Everything John-John knew in his first three years nearly ended with his father’s assassination on November 22, 1963, just three days before John-John’s own third birthday. The White House would no longer be his playground and he would grow up without the love of his father. Yet, ingrained in many people’s memory is the hand salute John Jr. gave to his father’s flag-draped casket during the funeral procession.
His mother, Jacqueline Kennedy, would be especially vigilant now in protecting her two children, John Jr. and Caroline. During the few years following his father’s death, John Jr., his mother and sister lived in Manhattan, New York. His schooling would be of great importance. He attend Collegiate School for Boys, Phillips Academy and then Brown University.
Even as the darling of the photographers and reporters, John Jr. had his run-ins with the media, especially when he felt they were hanging around too much and not giving them any private time. Yet, he learned how to work through those problems and to handle the press.
Once he was a young man in his twenties, he worked on many projects to assist various communities or charity organizations.
Eventually graduating from New York University Law School and passing his law exam. He became a prosecutor for the Manhattan District Attorney, with a great prosecution record of between 1989 and 1993 of six cases won and no loses.
In 1995 he began his own print magazine, George, which was a political journal. His slogan for the magazine was “Not politics as usual.” John handled much of the editing and writing with the magazine. The magazine was becoming very popular by making the confusing world of politics a bit more understanding with a touch of humor for everyday citizens.
John tried to keep a low profile, but always remained the favorite of the media. He still continued his many philanthropist activities. One program he was proud to help start was called ‘Reaching Up’ whose purpose was to train better caregivers for the mentally disabled. There was the Robin Hood Foundation John was part of to help the impoverished children of New York City.
John was also a risk taker, an adventurer and one who wanted to enjoy every second of life. A variety of sports always interested John. Those included; fishing, kayaking, bicycling, camping, touch football, and weight-lifting. and Frisbee. John was also known as a great Frisbee thrower. He did wait until his mother’s death in 1994 before taking airplane flying lessons, which was something he thoroughly enjoyed. He had his private pilot license by April 1998.
In spite of the lifelong attention he received, John grew up to be his own man. It did take a few years for him to focus on what he wanted to accomplish, but he was well on his way by the mid-1990s. He set his sights on what he wanted to achieve and went after it.
The love of his life was Carolyn Bassette, whom he married in September 1996. He managed to hold a very private wedding and avoided all publicity. His is magazine and new family life in New York, John Jr. appeared to be very happy and settled.
Yet, things would changed, not just for the Kennedy family, but for America very soon. John Kennedy Jr., his wife and her sister were all killed in July 16, 1999 when a private plane piloted by Kennedy crashed in the Atlantic Ocean near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Once the bodies were recovered, all three were buried at sea, to provide a permanent anonymous to a once very public life.
Now, fifty years since John Jr.’s birth, it is time to reflect and ponder what might have happened if John Kennedy Jr. had not died in that plane crash. The possibilities are endless.
Of course the political arena would have been front and center. Besides the possibility of a senate or governor race, he would have been highly considered presidential material. He could have run in the election of 2000 against George W. Bush. He might have won, he might not. For sure, he would have run in the election of 2008. With a well-known name, a captivating speaker and socially-oriented, he would have easily out campaigned Senator Barack Obama and won the presidency.
If not in the politics, Kennedy might have continued with his George magazine, but may have created another two to three other popular magazines. With that he could have written a couple books over the years as well.
John Jr. would have remained active in a variety of sports he loved. Being the risk taker, he would have injured himself a few times over the years.
He had already started assisting several charities and for sure that humanity work would have continued. John would have worked behind the scenes for the better good. Being a lawyer, he also did many legal cases for no fee to the client.
The real possibility would be the start of his own family with the birth of children. A son, named John F. Kennedy, III, would have just as much a legacy to follow as did John Jr.
There are numerous scenarios about ‘what if President John F. Kennedy had lived?’ The same applies to his son, John Jr. It is said, “John Jr. had only just begun. There was in him a great promise of things to come.”
John Jr. had a legacy and he learned to respect and treasure such a gift. He was watched nearly every moment of his short life and he blossomed into an extraordinary man. So many what-ifs.