John F Kennedys Inaugural Address

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John F Kennedys Inaugural Address



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President John F. Kennedy Inaugural Gala, January 20, 1961

Abraham Lincoln, in dedicating this great battlefield, has expressed, in words too eloquent for paraphrase or summary, why this sacrifice was necessary. Today, we meet not to add to his words nor to amend his sentiment but to recapture the feeling of awe that comes when contemplating a memorial to so many who placed their lives at hazard for right, as God gave them to see right. Among those who fought here were young men who but a short time before were pursuing truth in the peaceful halls of the then new University of Notre Dame.

Let us pray that God may grant us the wisdom to find and to follow a path that will enable the men of Notre Dame and all of our young men to seek truth in the halls of study rather than on the field of battle. Gleason, Jr. Let this be the measure of our nation. God willing, that goal will be achieved. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal. I know the United States Army will live up to its reputation for imagination, resourcefulness, and spirit as we meet this challenge. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, not in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet.

But let us begin. The first two are beyond our comprehension so we must do what we can with the third. Nixon talks about our being the strongest country in the world. I think we are today, but we were far stronger relative to the Communists 5 years ago. And what is of great concern is that the balance of power is in danger of moving with them. They made a breakthrough in missiles and by , '2, and '3, they will be outnumbering us in missiles.

And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worth while, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: 'I served in the United States Navy. And if Bobby died, Teddy would take over for him. According to a footnote in Schlesinger's manuscript 1st draft, p. This passage was featured in the Charles Guggenheim documentary that was shown to visitors in the original exhibit of the John F. Kennedy Museum. Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past - let us accept our own responsibility for the future.

The times are too grave, the challenge too urgent, and the stakes too high to permit the customary passions of political debate. We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future. As Winston Churchill said on taking office some twenty years ago: if we open a quarrel between the present and the past, we shall be in danger of losing the future.

References the Chinese proverb, "it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. For he does not stand alone. We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world - or make it the last. I pledged, and asked, only toil and dedication. These the Congress and the people have given in good measure. Secondly, were we truly men of judgment? Third, were we truly men of integrity? Finally, were we truly men of dedication?

I am reminded of the story of the great French Marshal Lyautey, who once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow-growing and would not reach maturity for a hundred years. The Marshal replied, 'In that case, there is no time to lose, plant it this afternoon. Note : Dante never made this statement. The closest to what President Kennedy meant is in the Inferno where the souls in the ante-room of hell, who "lived without disgrace and without praise," and the coward angels, who did not rebel but did not resist the cohorts of Lucifer, are condemned to being whirled through the air by great winds while being stung by wasps and horseflies.

And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have, in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea - whether it is to sail or to watch it - we are going back from whence we came. An old Breton fisherman's prayer that Admiral Rickover had inscribed on plaques that he gave to newly commissioned submarine captains. Rickover presented President Kennedy with one of these plaques, which sat on his desk in the Oval Office. When discussing the possibility of a complete military takeover in the country after reading the book Seven Days in May , President Kennedy said, " For space science, like nuclear science and technology, has no conscience of its own.

Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of preeminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.

Quite obviously, there is a higher purpose, and that is the hope that you will turn to the service of the State the scholarship, the education, the qualities which society has helped develop in you; that you will render on the community level, or on the state level, or on the national level, or the international level a contribution to the maintenance of freedom and peace and the security of our country and those associated with it in a most critical time. The Greeks defined happiness as the full use of your powers along the lines of excellence, and I can imagine no place where you can use your powers more fully along lines more excellent in the 's than to be in the service of the United States.

The Greeks once defined happiness as full use of your powers along lines of excellence, and I can assure you that there is no area of life where you will have an opportunity to use whatever powers you have, and to use them along more excellent lines, bringing ultimately, I think, happiness to you and those whom you serve. That is a wonderful challenge for us as a people. I come here today And unless in this free country of ours we are able to demonstrate that we are able to make this society work and progress, unless we can hope that from you we are going to get back all of the talents which society has helped develop in you, then, quite obviously, all the hopes of all of us that freedom will not only endure but prevail, of course, will be disappointed.

So we ask the best of you I congratulate you on what you have done, and most of all I congratulate you on what you are going to do. Less than a year later, he was back in Boston preparing for a run for Congress in He entered the 80th Congress in January , at the age of 29, and immediately attracted attention as well as some criticism from older members of the Washington establishment for his youthful appearance and relaxed, informal style.

Kennedy won reelection to the House of Representatives in and , and in ran successfully for the Senate, defeating the popular Republican incumbent Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. Two years later, he was forced to undergo a painful operation on his back. While recovering from the surgery, Jack wrote another best-selling book, Profiles in Courage , which won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in He defeated a primary challenge from the more liberal Hubert Humphrey and chose the Senate majority leader, Lyndon Johnson of Texas , as his running mate. In the general election, Kennedy faced a difficult battle against his Republican opponent, Richard Nixon, a two-term vice president under the popular Dwight D.

Offering a young, energetic alternative to Nixon and the status quo, Kennedy benefited from his performance and telegenic appearance in the first-ever televised debates, watched by millions of viewers. With his beautiful young wife and their two small children Caroline, born in , and John Jr. In his inaugural address, given on January 20, , the new president called on his fellow Americans to work together in the pursuit of progress and the elimination of poverty, but also in the battle to win the ongoing Cold War against communism around the world. An early crisis in the foreign affairs arena occurred in April , when Kennedy approved the plan to send 1, CIA-trained Cuban exiles in an amphibious landing at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba.

Intended to spur a rebellion that would overthrow the communist leader Fidel Castro , the mission ended in failure, with nearly all of the exiles captured or killed. Two months later, East German troops began erecting a wall to divide the city. Kennedy sent an army convoy to reassure West Berliners of U. Kennedy clashed again with Khrushchev in October during the Cuban missile crisis. After learning that the Soviet Union was constructing a number of nuclear and long-range missile sites in Cuba that could pose a threat to the continental United States, Kennedy announced a naval blockade of Cuba.

During his first year in office, Kennedy oversaw the launch of the Peace Corps, which would send young volunteers to underdeveloped countries all over the world. Otherwise, he was unable to achieve much of his proposed legislation during his lifetime, including two of his biggest priorities: income tax cuts and a civil rights bill. Kennedy was slow to commit himself to the civil rights cause, but was eventually forced into action, sending federal troops to support the desegregation of the University of Mississippi after riots there left two dead and many others injured.

The following summer, Kennedy announced his intention to propose a comprehensive civil rights bill and endorsed the massive March on Washington that took place that August. Shortly after p. Twenty-four-year-old Lee Harvey Oswald, known to have Communist sympathies, was arrested for the killing but was shot and fatally wounded two days later by local nightclub owner Jack Ruby while being led to jail. A presidential commission led by Chief Justice Earl Warren concluded that Oswald had acted alone, but speculation and debate over the assassination has persisted. Start your free trial today. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! He succeeded in getting Congress to pass many elements of his "New Frontier" domestic program, including aid to higher education, increases in the minimum wage and Social Security benefits, urban renewal, and aid to economically distressed areas.

His policies ushered in a sustained period of economic growth and set the stage for major reform initiatives, including the establishment of the cabinet-level Department of Urban Affairs, the provision of medical care for the aged under the Medicare program, federal assistance for public schools, and stronger regulation of farm production, that were enacted under the leadership of President Lyndon B. Though initially cautious, Kennedy made notable gains in civil rights. During his first days in office, Kennedy established the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity to eliminate discrimination in federal hiring, instructed his cabinet secretaries to expand opportunities for African Americans in every department, and renewed the Civil Rights Commission.

Increasingly moved to moral outrage by Southern resistance to court-ordered desegregation of public schools and facilities, President Kennedy, together with his brother, Attorney General Robert F. In , Kennedy sent U. Meredith in the University of Mississippi. In , Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard to prevent violence during integration of the last segregated State university in the nation. The Kennedy nursery Photo by Robert Perron National Park Service In the fall of , Kennedy toured the nation to build support for administration programs and his reelection. On November 22, , an assassin shot Kennedy as his motorcade passed through downtown Dallas, Texas. Working from her remembrances, Mrs. Kennedy and Mr.

Luddington assembled and arranged household furnishings, photographs, and significant mementoes in the principal rooms of the house. The birthplace has been designated a National Historic Landmark. The grounds are accessible year round; the house is open to the public seasonally. Entrance to the Visitor Center is free; a fee is charged for visiting the house museum. Visitors can also enjoy self-guided walking and special ranger-led tours of the neighborhood where Jack Kennedy spent his childhood. The John F. The home is the subject of an online lesson plan, Birthplace of John F. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page. JOHN F. Kennedy Library.

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