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

„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

„Today no war has been declared — and however fierce the struggle may be, it may never be declared in the traditional fashion. Our way of life is under attack.“

—  John F. Kennedy

1961, Address to ANPA
Context: Today no war has been declared — and however fierce the struggle may be, it may never be declared in the traditional fashion. Our way of life is under attack. Those who make themselves our enemy are advancing around the globe. The survival of our friends is in danger. And yet no war has been declared, no borders have been crossed by marching troops, no missiles have been fired.
If the press is awaiting a declaration of war before it imposes the self-discipline of combat conditions, then I can only say that no war ever posed a greater threat to our security. If you are awaiting a finding of "clear and present danger," then I can only say that the danger has never been more clear and its presence has never been more imminent.
It requires a change in outlook, a change in tactics, a change in missions — by the government, by the people, by every businessman or labor leader, and by every newspaper. For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence — on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations. Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed. It conducts the Cold War, in short, with a war-time discipline no democracy would ever hope or wish to match.
Nevertheless, every democracy recognizes the necessary restraints of national security — and the question remains whether those restraints need to be more strictly observed if we are to oppose this kind of attack as well as outright invasion.

„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

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„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.

„I want to talk about our common responsibilities in the face of a common danger. The events of recent weeks may have helped to illuminate that challenge for some; but the dimensions of its threat have loomed large on the horizon for many years.“

—  John F. Kennedy

1961, Address to ANPA
Context: I want to talk about our common responsibilities in the face of a common danger. The events of recent weeks may have helped to illuminate that challenge for some; but the dimensions of its threat have loomed large on the horizon for many years. Whatever our hopes may be for the future — for reducing this threat or living with it — there is no escaping either the gravity or the totality of its challenge to our survival and to our security — a challenge that confronts us in unaccustomed ways in every sphere of human activity.
This deadly challenge imposes upon our society two requirements of direct concern both to the press and to the President — two requirements that may seem almost contradictory in tone, but which must be reconciled and fulfilled if we are to meet this national peril. I refer, first, to the need for a far greater public information; and, second, to the need for far greater official secrecy.

„If the pursuit of learning is not defended by the educated citizen, it will not be defended at all.“

—  John F. Kennedy

1963, Address at Vanderbilt University
Context: If the pursuit of learning is not defended by the educated citizen, it will not be defended at all. For there will always be those who scoff at intellectuals, who cry out against research, who seek to limit our educational system. Modern cynics and skeptics see no more reason for landing a man on the moon, which we shall do, than the cynics and skeptics of half a millennium ago saw for the discovery of this country. They see no harm in paying those to whom they entrust the minds of their children a smaller wage than is paid to those to whom they entrust the care of their plumbing. But the educated citizen knows how much more there is to know. He knows that "knowledge is power," more so today than ever before. He knows that only an educated and informed people will be a free people, that the ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all, and that if we can, as Jefferson put it, "enlighten the people generally … tyranny and the oppressions of mind and body will vanish, like evil spirits at the dawn of day." And, therefore, the educated citizen has a special obligation to encourage the pursuit of learning, to promote exploration of the unknown, to preserve the freedom of inquiry, to support the advancement of research, and to assist at every level of government the improvement of education for all Americans, from grade school to graduate school.

„We meet in an hour of grief and challenge. Dag Hammarskjold is dead. But the United Nations lives. His tragedy is deep in our hearts, but the task for which he died is at the top of our agenda. A noble servant of peace is gone. But the quest for peace lies before us.“

—  John F. Kennedy

1961, UN speech
Context: We meet in an hour of grief and challenge. Dag Hammarskjold is dead. But the United Nations lives. His tragedy is deep in our hearts, but the task for which he died is at the top of our agenda. A noble servant of peace is gone. But the quest for peace lies before us.
The problem is not the death of one man — the problem is the life of this organization. It will either grow to meet the challenges of our age, or it will be gone with the wind, without influence, without force, without respect. Were we to let it die, to enfeeble its vigor, to cripple its powers, we would condemn our future. For in the development of this organization rests the only true alternative to war — and war appeals no longer as a rational alternative. Unconditional war can no longer lead to unconditional victory. It can no longer serve to settle disputes. It can no longer concern the great powers alone. For a nuclear disaster, spread by wind and water and fear, could well engulf the great and the small, the rich and the poor, the committed and the uncommitted alike. Mankind must put an end to war — or war will put an end to mankind.
So let us here resolve that Dag Hammarskjold did not live, or die, in vain. Let us call a truce to terror. Let us invoke the blessings of peace. And as we build an international capacity to keep peace, let us join in dismantling the national capacity to wage war.

„But however close we sometimes seem to that dark and final abyss, let no man of peace and freedom despair. For he does not stand alone. If we all can persevere, if we can in every land and office look beyond our own shores and ambitions, then surely the age will dawn in which the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.“

—  John F. Kennedy

1961, UN speech
Context: I come here today to look across this world of threats to a world of peace. In that search we cannot expect any final triumph — for new problems will always arise. We cannot expect that all nations will adopt like systems — for conformity is the jailor of freedom, and the enemy of growth. Nor can we expect to reach our goal by contrivance, by fiat or even by the wishes of all.
But however close we sometimes seem to that dark and final abyss, let no man of peace and freedom despair. For he does not stand alone. If we all can persevere, if we can in every land and office look beyond our own shores and ambitions, then surely the age will dawn in which the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.

„We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.“

—  John F. Kennedy

Commencement address, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (11 June 1962) http://millercenter.org/scripps/archive/speeches/detail/3370
1962
Context: The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.

„I believe in a President whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.“

—  John F. Kennedy

1960, Speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association
Context: That is the kind of America in which I believe. And it represents the kind of Presidency in which I believe — a great office that must neither be humbled by making it the instrument of any one religious group nor tarnished by arbitrarily withholding its occupancy from the members of any one religious group. I believe in a President whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.

„Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. When all are free, then we can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one and this country and this great Continent of Europe in a peaceful and hopeful globe.“

—  John F. Kennedy, book Ich bin ein Berliner

1963, Ich bin ein Berliner
Context: Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. When all are free, then we can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one and this country and this great Continent of Europe in a peaceful and hopeful globe. When that day finally comes, as it will, the people of West Berlin can take sober satisfaction in the fact that they were in the front lines for almost two decades.
All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words "Ich bin ein Berliner."

„I have spoken about the New Frontier.“

—  John F. Kennedy

1963
Context: For more than 3 years I have spoken about the New Frontier. This is not a partisan term, and it is not the exclusive property of Republicans or Democrats. It refers, instead, to this Nation's place in history, to the fact that we do stand on the edge of a great new era, filled with both crisis and opportunity, an era to be characterized by achievement and by challenge. It is an era which calls for action and for the best efforts of all those who would test the unknown and the uncertain in every phase of human endeavor. It is a time for pathfinders and pioneers.

„Today our concern must be with that future. For the world is changing. The old era is ending. The old ways will not do. […] It is a time, in short, for a new generation of leadership — new men to cope with new problems and new opportunities.“

—  John F. Kennedy

1960, The New Frontier
Context: But I think the American people expect more from us than cries of indignation and attack. 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. Today our concern must be with that future. For the world is changing. The old era is ending. The old ways will not do. [... ] It is a time, in short, for a new generation of leadership — new men to cope with new problems and new opportunities.

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

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