John F. Kennedy Memorial: Young L.A. Artist Remembers A President Killed Before He Was Born

He was born more than a quarter-century after President John F. Kennedy died, but 24-year-old artist Alex "Ali" Gonzalez said the young president was always one of his mother's heroes.

That's why she pressured him to attend Los Angeles' John F. Kennedy High School a decade ago when he considered going elsewhere.

"My mom loved that I was coming here. She really pushed that I come to this school," Gonzalez recalled with a laugh earlier this week while he returned to campus for a celebration of Kennedy's life.

That larger-than-life Kennedy mureal found just past the school's main office? Gonzalez painted last year. It was a gift from the 2007 graduate, whose work is often seen these days on TV show The Voice and in L.A. galleries.

"I don't paint a portrait of just anyone," Gonzalez said. "I like to paint inspirational people. So that when people sit back and look at that painting, they will be inspired."

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That's what happened to him, he said, when his teachers explained why his immigrant parents so greatly admired a man who was an early advocate of civil rights and inspired millions of Americans to make their country a better place.

"He was a great man overall," Gonzalez said, pausing to check out a display honoring Kennedy's military service. "He was a true American."

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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