Lincoln Left his Mark on PT 109

The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.
— Abe Lincoln

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On this date in 1943, young John Kennedy was skippering a small torpedo boat on a mission to sneak up in the dark on a Japanese Navy outpost in the Solomon islands. Instead, a Japanese destroyer rammed Kennedy’s boat and snapped it like a matchstick.

Kennedy sustained a spinal injury that would cause him chronic pain throughout his short life.  But that night, he had strength and gumption enough to swim to shore, leading the crew who could swim, instructing them to push with them a piece of the wreckage where those who could not swim were clining.  As the legend goes, Kennedy held in his teeth a rope that towed a crewman who had been badly burned.

17½ years later, Kennedy was inaugurated President on the Capitol mall, and he invited to the ceremony not only the two Island natives who found and rescued Kennedy and his crew, but also the captain of the Japanese destroyer who rammed PT 109 on the night of August 1, 1943.

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