Miller Center

John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis

Jaime Brookes, Larkspur M.S. (Virginia Beach, VA)
Ann Cain, Tallwood H.S. (Virginia Beach, VA)
Shelly Norris, Corporate Landing, M.S. (Virginia Beach, VA)

Edited by John Sturtz, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia


Virginia Beach Objectives:

7.8.9 Describe the Kennedy administration’s responses to challenges during the Cold War. (more)

Virginia Standards of Learning

USII-7C. The student will demonstrate knowledge of the economic, social, and political transformation of the United States and the world between the end of World War II and the present by:

c) identifying the role of America’s military and veterans in defending freedom during the Cold War, including the wars in Korea and Vietnam, the Cuban missile crisis, the collapse of communism in Europe, and the rise of new challenges

Historical Context

In October of 1962, U.S. intelligence learned that the Soviet Union was constructing offensive nuclear missile bases in Cuba. On October 16, 1962, John F. Kennedy convened a meeting of his closest advisors to discuss the photos produced by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (more)



  • U-2 Spy Plane, circa 1962.
  • U-2 photograph of a truck convoy, October 14, 1962.

    Convoy approaching a deployment of Soviet MRBMs near Los Palacios at San Cristobal. This photograph was the first one identified by NPIC on 15 October as showing medium-range ballistic missiles in Cuba.

  • (more)





Cuba, circa 1962.
Interactive map of the island, identifying major places of interest and location of Soviet forces.


Teacher/Student Activity

This activity can be done individually, in pairs, or in groups.

1. Focus Activity: Students will observe primary source documents and analyze what is taking place based upon the information provided and record their inferences.
2. Students will predict three courses of action available to the President.



Students will prepare an After Action Report in PPT format to be delivered to the President outlining the major causes of the Cuban Missile Crisis, courses of action considered in response to the crisis, course of action chosen and used, and the end result.