John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address

24
20

Delivered January, 20 1961 in Washington D.C.

 

Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, reverend clergy, fellow citizens:

 

We observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom — symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning — signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago.

 

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe — the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.

 

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans — born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

 

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

 

This much we pledge — and more.

 

To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided there is little we can do — for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

 

To those new states whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom — and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

 

To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required — not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

 

To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge: to convert our good words into good deeds, in a new alliance for progress, to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.

 

To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support — to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective, to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak, and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.

 

Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.

 

We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.

 

But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course — both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind’s final war.

 

So let us begin anew — remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.

 

Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.

 

Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms, and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.

 

Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.

 

Let both sides unite to heed, in all corners of the earth, the command of Isaiah — to “undo the heavy burdens, and [to] let the oppressed go free.”¹

 

And, if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor — not a new balance of power, but a new world of law — where the strong are just, and the weak secure, and the peace preserved.

 

All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days; nor in the life of this Administration; nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.

 

In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

 

Now the trumpet summons us again — not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need — not as a call to battle, though embattled we are — but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation,”² a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

 

Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility — I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it. And the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

 

And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

 

My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

 

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.

~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

 

What  a speech.  You can’t help but feel inspired when you read it. Kennedy’s future was  a bright beacon of hope. A future were we came together to invest in the future of all mankind and not our petty differences. Good to his word, Kennedy immediately began fighting for the social and economic ideals he had put forth. He presented a strong front during the Cuban Missile Crisis, regret over the Bay of Pigs disaster, and worked hard to improve relations with our southern neighbors.   Sadly, a little over halfway through his first term, President Kennedy was struck down by an assassin while visiting Texas. The country never really got over it, and Kennedy’s dream never took focus. Which sucks. It was a good dream. Too many good men died trying to make it happen. Far too many.

24
Leave a Comment

Please Login to comment
5 Comment threads
19 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
6 Comment authors
foxismschazmaniakesmarnKillgoreTroutADONAI Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
foxisms
Guest

Nice piece Adonai. And important to remind people of what this man stood for.

chazmania
Guest

And you match that with the dictabelt recording and it becomes all too obvious..this may not prove a conspiracy by some in the government (chuckle) but does for most people that studied this that there was a third shot that was from the front. I lean towards the man hole cover but the possibility is more then even two shooters.. If your going to plan it and attempt it you better get it right the first time. Also a man with a rifle was seen exiting the underground water way connecting tunnel to that manhole. the position is correct and consistent with that angle A researcher that studied evidence around the head wound was surprised to discover the trajectory made no sense when he traced it to that location. he expected other results and kept retesting, oh and by the way also Jfk’s head mysteriously ends up missing..
I know many do not want to face this and are convinced there is no such thing as any hidden group in our government that would do such a thing.
I can only say that no con man can ever commit the con without the approval and suspension of disbelief of their victim.

foxisms
Guest

Chaz, the unfortunate fact is that there are so-o-o many possibilities that it becomes damned near impossible to pinpoint those that are viable from those that aren’t.
A mass misinformation campaign? Maybe. I dunno.
If so, between that and the people who were either never called on (or “became unavailable”) for testimony, untested evidence at the time that was arbitrarily dismissed and the quick wrap up of the Commission before exploring too deeply much (if any) of the physical leads…and, well…there’s little doubt as to why so many of the questions involved remain unsatisfactorily answered. Which only further leads to further speculation.
People to this day still theorize the Lincoln assassination.And the WTC thing? Fuhgedaboudit.
Everyone is left to go with their gut feeling on these things and little more.
We know more about the ancient Egyptians than we will ever know about certain events of our own history.

chazmania
Guest

Its not much wonder why him and his brother would be targeted…

As an audio professional for most of my adult life i examined the recently computer enhanced and steadied zuputer film and dicta belt matched recordings of the assassination in Dallas…Being fully subjective i can only conclude the 3rd shot was not from the book depository but much closer to the car and from the footage alone its clear it obeyed the laws of physics as a forward impact..
Regardless of your stance on this the evidence does not lie no matter how well covered up certain things remain obvious.
As well as a mountain of circumstantial evidence suggesting a cover up…why a mountain? Ignorance may be bliss but its still ignorant.

KillgoreTrout
Member

The head shot is what really makes me believe it was fired from the front. Nobody will ever convince me otherwise, and I don’t care how many “scientific,” explanations they come up with.
I grew up around guns, and was in the USMC, and I have seen the way objects react to a shot from the front.
I won’t pretend to know who fired that shot, or even why exactly. But it sure didn’t come from behind.

KillgoreTrout
Member

Adonai, thanks for posting this. Great words from a great man. I will forever have a sensitive place in my heart for JFK and his brother Bobby. I remember watching the inauguration on CBS news (in black and white). Though I was too young to understand much of what he said.
I have since, read this speech a few times, and watched old news footage of the speech, to get a better understanding than my young years allowed. Thanks again.

whatsthatsound
Member

Hey, AD, thanks for posting this! It was/is a good dream. Now that’s the kind of country I want to see more of in the world!

We know how to live right. Wise words such as those above don’t come out of nowhere. We just don’t seen able to stop those who DON’T know how to live right from making such a mess of things.