Remembering JFK

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fifty years ago this week, a 43-year-old man from Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy, was inaugurated as the 35th president of the United States. As he stated in his inaugural address, his election marked a "passing of the torch" and his presidency ushered in a new era for Washington. His election signalled significant change in the White House, bringing glamour and youthful promise to a nation mired in a cold war era of fear. For me, Kennedy's presidency is best remembered for advancement of the Civil Rights movement, his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis and his goal to place a man on the moon that was achieved six years after his assassination with the Apollo 11 moon landing. I think Kennedy's presidency was also marked by energy, enthusiasm and a belief that opportunities for Americans were limitless, thanks to the inspiration of a young, charismatic president.

Over the years, I have developed a deep interest in all things Kennedy, especially pertaining to JFK and the iconic Jackie O. The glass-topped coffee table in my living room contains several copies of Life magazine, circa the early 1960s, with the Kennedys on the cover, chronicling JFK's presidency and his assassination, plus a yellowing copy of the St. Louis Post Dispatch dated Nov. 22, 1963, bearing the headline "Kennedy is Assassinated, Shot by Sniper in Dallas." I have often wondered what would have happened if Kennedy had been allowed to complete his presidency or if his brother, Bobby, had been afforded the chance to carry on JFK's legacy.

In honor of Kennedy's memory, I want to include some of his most famous quotes that I hope will offer new inspiration and hope to an America that needs both.

* "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."

* "Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource."

* "There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction."

* "For of those to whom much is given, much is required."

* "Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind."

* "This country cannot afford to be materially rich and spiritually poor."

* "The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission."

* "The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were."

* "I look forward to a great future for America - a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose."

* "Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others."

* "Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."

Lisa Schlichtman