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Let us think about a situation that led to a difficult decision for one of our former Presidents. John F. Kennedy was our President about 40 years ago. In 1962 President Kennedy learned that Russian leaders were putting nuclear missiles in a country called Cuba which is very close to the United States (click here to see a map). Although Russian and the United States are friends now, they did not get along in 1962. President Kennedy did not want nuclear missiles close to the United States because they could have killed almost everyone in our country. In order to protect the safety of the American community President Kennedy needed to do something. This was a difficult decision for President Kennedy. He wanted to convince the Russians to remove their missiles from Cuba without starting a large war.

Here are some questions you might think about:

President John F. Kennedy - 1962

1. What sort of things did President Kennedy have to consider when making his decision?

2. What actions did Kennedy take before making his decision? What was the ultimate decision that was made?

3. Who helped the president make his decision?

4. Would you have made the same decision as Kennedy? What would you have done differently?


Here is some information that might be useful in you inquiry:

-The television speech Kennedy gave, which informed the U.S. community about the crisis

-Letters exchanged between President Kennedy and Russian leader Premier Nikita Khrushchev

-Aerial photographs of Cuba that Kennedy reviewed showing the missiles on Cuban soil

-A brief history/background that explores the reasons for conflict

-White House audio tapes of some of the meeting Kennedy held during the Cuban Missile Crisis