20 January, 1961, Washington, D.C.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the 35th president of the United States of America and the youngest in the country’s history. During much of his school life, Jack Kennedy, as he was more commonly known, was very mischievous and also suffered from numerous health problems. But towards the end of his school years, Jack had begun to show promise and for his high school yearbook, he was voted “most likely to succeed.” His entry into the prestigious Harvard College in 1936 saw Kennedy begin a lifelong interest in political philosophy.
Soon after being sworn in as president, Kennedy spoke about the importance of service to the nation.
“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.
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.
To those nations who would make themselves our opponents, 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 self-destruction.
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, 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.”
John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 before he could complete a full term but to this day, he is considered one of the most popular American presidents of all time.
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