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John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), commonly referred to by his initials JFK, was an American politician who served as the 35th President of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. Kennedy served at the height of the Cold War, and much of his presidency focused on managing relations with the Soviet Union. A member of the Democratic Party, Kennedy represented the state of Massachusetts in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate prior to becoming president. Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, to Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. and Rose Kennedy. A scion of the Kennedy family, he graduated from Harvard University in 1940 before joining the U.S. Naval Reserve the following year. During World War II, Kennedy commanded a series of PT boats in the Pacific theater and earned the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his service. After the war, Kennedy represented the 11th congressional district of Massachusetts in the United States House of Representatives from 1947 until 1953. He was subsequently elected to the U.S. Senate and served as the junior Senator from Massachusetts from 1953 until 1960. While serving in the Senate, he published Profiles in Courage, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography. In the 1960 presidential election, Kennedy narrowly defeated Republican opponent Richard Nixon, who was the incumbent Vice President. At age 43, he became the youngest elected president as well as the first and only Roman Catholic to occupy the office.