John F. Kennedy quotes

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John F. Kennedy

Birthdate: 29. May 1917
Date of death: 22. November 1963

John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , commonly referred to by his initials JFK, was an American statesman who served as the 35th President of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. Kennedy served at the height of the Cold War, and much of his presidency focused on managing relations with the Soviet Union. He was a member of the Democratic Party who represented Massachusetts in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate prior to becoming president.

Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, to Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Kennedy. A scion of the Kennedy family, he graduated from Harvard University in 1940 before joining the United States Naval Reserve the following year. During World War II, Kennedy commanded a series of PT boats in the Pacific theater and earned the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his service. After the war, Kennedy represented Massachusetts's 11th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1947 until 1953. He was subsequently elected to the U.S. Senate and served as the junior Senator from Massachusetts from 1953 until 1960. While serving in the Senate, he published Profiles in Courage, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography. In the 1960 presidential election, Kennedy narrowly defeated Republican opponent Richard Nixon, who was the incumbent Vice President.

Kennedy's time in office was marked by high tensions with Communist states in the Cold War. He increased the number of American military advisers in South Vietnam by a factor of 18 over President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In April 1961, he authorized a failed joint-CIA attempt to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro in the Bay of Pigs Invasion. He subsequently rejected plans by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to orchestrate false-flag attacks on American soil in order to gain public approval for a war against Cuba. In October 1962, U.S. spy planes discovered that Soviet missile bases had been deployed in Cuba; the resulting period of tensions, termed the Cuban Missile Crisis, nearly resulted in the breakout of a global thermonuclear conflict. Domestically, Kennedy presided over the establishment of the Peace Corps and supported the Civil Rights Movement, but he was largely unsuccessful in passing his New Frontier domestic policies. Kennedy continues to rank highly in historians' polls of U.S. presidents and with the general public. His average approval rating of 70% is the highest of any president in Gallup's history of systematically measuring job approval.

On November 22, 1963, Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the crime, but he was never prosecuted due to his murder by Jack Ruby two days later. Pursuant to the Presidential Succession Act, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as president later that day. The FBI and the Warren Commission officially concluded that Oswald was the lone assassin, but various groups believed that Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy. After Kennedy's death, many of his proposals were enacted, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Revenue Act of 1964.

Works

Ich bin ein Berliner
John F. Kennedy
Profiles in Courage
Profiles in Courage
John F. Kennedy

Quotes John F. Kennedy

„Together we shall save our planet, or together we shall perish in its flames. Save it we can — and save it we must — and then shall we earn the eternal thanks of mankind and, as peacemakers, the eternal blessing of God.“

—  John F. Kennedy

1961, UN speech
Context: Ladies and gentlemen of this Assembly, the decision is ours. Never have the nations of the world had so much to lose, or so much to gain. Together we shall save our planet, or together we shall perish in its flames. Save it we can — and save it we must — and then shall we earn the eternal thanks of mankind and, as peacemakers, the eternal blessing of God.

„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.“

—  John F. Kennedy

"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." is one of seven quotes inscribed on the walls at the gravesite of John F. Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery.
"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." is one of seven quotes inscribed on the walls at the gravesite of John F. Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery.
"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." is one of seven quotes inscribed on the walls at the gravesite of John F. Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery.
It has been reported at various places on the internet that in JFK's Inaugural address, the famous line "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country", was inspired by, or even a direct quotation of the famous and much esteemed writer and poet Khalil Gibran. Gibran in 1925 wrote in Arabic a line that has been translated as:
::Are you a politician asking what your country can do for you or a zealous one asking what you can do for your country?
::If you are the first, then you are a parasite; if the second, then you are an oasis in a desert.
However, this translation of Gibran is one that occurred over a decade after Kennedy's 1961 speech, appearing in A Third Treasury of Kahlil Gibran (1975) edited by Andrew Dib Sherfan, and the translator most likely drew upon Kennedy's famous words in expressing Gibran's prior ideas. For a further discussion regarding the quote see here.
1961, Inaugural Address
Context: 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.

„Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.“

—  John F. Kennedy

Address to Latin American diplomats at the White House (13 March 1962) http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=9100&st=&st1=
1962

„The science of weapons and war has made us all“

—  John F. Kennedy

1963, UN speech
Context: The United Nations cannot survive as a static organization. Its obligations are increasing as well as its size. Its Charter must be changed as well as its customs. The authors of that Charter did not intend that it be frozen in perpetuity. The science of weapons and war has made us all, far more than 18 years ago in San Francisco, one world and one human race, with one common destiny. In such a world, absolute sovereignty no longer assures us of absolute security. The conventions of peace must pull abreast and then ahead of the inventions of war. The United Nations, building on its successes and learning from its failures, must be developed into a genuine world security system.

„Our problems are manmade — therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.“

—  John F. Kennedy

1963, American University speech
Context: Let us examine our attitude toward peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable — that mankind is doomed — that we are gripped by forces we cannot control. We need not accept that view. Our problems are manmade — therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man's reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable — and we believe they can do it again.

„The long labor of peace is an undertaking for every nation — and in this effort none of us can remain unaligned. To this goal none can be uncommitted.“

—  John F. Kennedy

1963, UN speech
Context: The task of building the peace lies with the leaders of every nation, large and small. For the great powers have no monopoly on conflict or ambition. The cold war is not the only expression of tension in this world — and the nuclear race is not the only arms race. Even little wars are dangerous in a nuclear world. The long labor of peace is an undertaking for every nation — and in this effort none of us can remain unaligned. To this goal none can be uncommitted.

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„This decoration which has gone from the ground up — here.“

—  John F. Kennedy

Remarks at the presentation of NASA's Distinguished Service Medal to Astronaut Alan B. Shepard (8 May 1961) http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=8119 — Video of presentation at YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0OurosNBFo
1961
Context: Commander Shepard has pointed out from the time that this flight began and from the time this flight was a success, that this was a common effort in which a good many men were involved. I think it does credit to him that he is associated with such a distinguished group of Americans whom we are all glad to honor today, his companions in the flight into outer space, so I think we want to give them all a hand. … I also want to take cognizance of the fact that this flight was made out in the open with all the possibilities of failure, which would have been damaging to our country's prestige. Because great risks were taken in that regard, it seems to me that we have some right to claim that this open society of ours which risked much, gained much. … This is a civilian award for a great civilian accomplishment, and therefore I want to again express my congratulations to Alan Shepard. We are very proud of him, and I speak on behalf of the Vice President, who is Chairman of our Space Council and who bears great responsibilities in this field, and the Members of the House and Senate Space Committee who are with us today. [accidentally drops the medallion, and picks it up] This decoration which has gone from the ground up — here.

„All mankind waits upon our decision. A whole world looks to see what we will do. We cannot fail their trust, we cannot fail to try.“

—  John F. Kennedy

1960, The New Frontier
Context: For the harsh facts of the matter are that we stand on this frontier at a turning-point in history. We must prove all over again whether this nation — or any nation so conceived — can long endure — whether our society — with its freedom of choice, its breadth of opportunity, its range of alternatives — can compete with the single-minded advance of the Communist system. Can a nation organized and governed such as ours endure? That is the real question. Have we the nerve and the will? Can we carry through in an age where we will witness not only new breakthroughs in weapons of destruction — but also a race for mastery of the sky and the rain, the ocean and the tides, the far side of space and the inside of men's minds? Are we up to the task — are we equal to the challenge? Are we willing to match the Russian sacrifice of the present for the future — or must we sacrifice our future in order to enjoy the present? That is the question of the New Frontier. That is the choice our nation must make — a choice that lies not merely between two men or two parties, but between the public interest and private comfort — between national greatness and national decline — between the fresh air of progress and the stale, dank atmosphere of "normalcy" — between determined dedication and creeping mediocrity. All mankind waits upon our decision. A whole world looks to see what we will do. We cannot fail their trust, we cannot fail to try.

„Our deep spiritual confidence that this nation will survive the perils of today“

—  John F. Kennedy

which may well be with us for decades to come — compels us to invest in our nation's future, to consider and meet our obligations to our children and the numberless generations that will follow.
"Special message to the Congress on Conservation (69)" (1 March 1962) http://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Research-Aids/Ready-Reference/JFK-Quotations.aspx
1962

„Those whom nature has so joined together, let no man put asunder.“

—  John F. Kennedy

Address by the President at a Luncheon Given in His Honor by President Lopez Matcos (29 June 1962) http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=8741&st=&st1=<!-- Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project -->
1962
Context: While geography has made us neighbors, tradition has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies — in a vast Alianza para el Progreso. Those whom nature has so joined together, let no man put asunder.

„Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us. […] Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors.“

—  John F. Kennedy

1961, Inaugural Address
Context: 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 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."

„Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end — where all men and all churches are treated as equal — where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice“

—  John F. Kennedy

where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind — and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.
1960, Speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association

„My fellow inhabitants of this planet: Let us take our stand here in this Assembly of nations. And let us see if we, in our own time, can move the world to a just and lasting peace.“

—  John F. Kennedy

1963, UN speech
Context: Two years ago I told this body that the United States had proposed, and was willing to sign, a limited test ban treaty. Today that treaty has been signed. It will not put an end to war. It will not remove basic conflicts. It will not secure freedom for all. But it can be a lever, and Archimedes, in explaining the principles of the lever, was said to have declared to his friends: "Give me a place where I can stand — and I shall move the world." My fellow inhabitants of this planet: Let us take our stand here in this Assembly of nations. And let us see if we, in our own time, can move the world to a just and lasting peace.

„Some say that it is useless to speak of world peace or world law or world disarmament — and that it will be useless until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it. But I also believe that we must reexamine our own attitude — as individuals and as a Nation — for our attitude is as essential as theirs.“

—  John F. Kennedy

1963, American University speech
Context: Some say that it is useless to speak of world peace or world law or world disarmament — and that it will be useless until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it. But I also believe that we must reexamine our own attitude — as individuals and as a Nation — for our attitude is as essential as theirs. And every graduate of this school, every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward — by examining his own attitude toward the possibilities of peace, toward the Soviet Union, toward the course of the cold war and toward freedom and peace here at home.

„The effort to improve the conditions of man, however, is not a task for the few. It is the task of all nations“

—  John F. Kennedy

acting alone, acting in groups, acting in the United Nations, for plague and pestilence, and plunder and pollution, the hazards of nature, and the hunger of children are the foes of every nation. The earth, the sea, and the air are the concern of every nation. And science, technology, and education can be the ally of every nation. Never before has man had such capacity to control his own environment, to end thirst and hunger, to conquer poverty and disease, to banish illiteracy and massive human misery. We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world — or to make it the last.
1963, UN speech

„The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings.“

—  John F. Kennedy

1961, Address to ANPA
Context: The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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