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Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy: Let’s Move!

Just over four years ago, First Lady Michelle Obama started Let’s Move! to help address rising childhood obesity rates in the U.S. But the First Lady wasn’t the first person in the White House to focus on the health of our nation’s kids.

Back in 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower was inspired by an international study that found American children to be less fit than children in other countries, and so he launched the President’s Council on Youth Fitness, or Executive Order 10673. When President Kennedy took office in 1961, he recommitted his Administration to the effort and launched an official U.S. Physical Fitness Program encouraging nationwide participation. In a video address to the American people, President Kennedy said:

I hope all of you will join in a great national effort to build a strong and better America, through physical effort and through the contributions we can make by the drive and force we bring into our daily lives.

Now here’s where Superman comes in.

In 1963, the Kennedy Administration collaborated with DC Comics and legendary comic book artist Al Plastino (who had been drawing the red-caped, super-strong comic book hero for almost 20 years) to create a Superman story that would inspire the nation to be physically active and eat healthier. The comic book, “Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy,” was put on hold after President Kennedy’s death, but later published as a tribute to the late President.

Over 50 years later, the rare Superman comic is making a comeback. After Al Plastino passed away in December 2013, DC Comics donated the never-before-displayed original artwork for the story to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. You can check out the special exhibit through September 1, 2014 and learn more about it here.

Let’s Move! is excited to bring you a selection of the drawings right here. In the comic President Kennedy says, "We must show our youngsters that everyone has to keep fit ­­­­­­– not just sports heroes! Once we lose our physical alertness, our mental awareness will vanish as well!” We couldn't agree more!