WASHINGTON (AP) President Barack Obama says John F. Kennedy stays in America's imagination not because he was assassinated but because he embodied the character of the people he led.
He says Kennedy was defiant in the face of impossible odds and determined to make the world anew.
Obama is lionizing the slain president at a dinner honoring recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Obama bestowed that award on 16 Americans on Wednesday, two days before the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's assassination. Kennedy created the award but was killed weeks before the first ceremony.
Obama says Kennedy understood people are remembered for their contributions to the human spirit. He says Kennedy could have retreated to a life of luxury but chose to live in the arena, refusing to settle for the status quo.