Tags: Presidential History | John Kennedy Inaugural | Speech | Highlights | U.S. President

John Kennedy Inaugural Address Highlights: 6 Quotes From Speech

Image: John Kennedy Inaugural Address Highlights: 6 Quotes From Speech
Inaugural Address of President John F. Kennedy, 1961. (wikimedia/commons)

By    |   Wednesday, 25 Feb 2015 03:54 PM

It's been more than 50 years since President John F. Kennedy delivered his inaugural address, and his words still resonate with Americans, especially the often repeated, "My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."

Though much has changed in the United States during the past half-century, the administration known as "Camelot" remains in the collective consciousness of a country deeply moved by his presidency.

In addition to his most famous quote, here are six other highlights from Kennedy's Jan. 20, 1961 inaugural address, which emphasized everyone pitching in for the benefit of the country as a whole, rather than the pursuit of individual freedoms.

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1. "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."

2. "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."

3.
On the expanding role of technology, such as nuclear weapons or advances in humane endeavors, Kennedy said: "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."

4. "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."

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5. Kennedy referred to the frosty relationship with the Soviet Union several times during his speech, and suggested the two superpowers work together. "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."

Later, he says: "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."

6. 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."

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It's been more than 50 years since President John F. Kennedy delivered his inaugural address, and his words still resonate with Americans, especially the often repeated, "My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."
John Kennedy Inaugural, Speech, Highlights, U.S. President
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Wednesday, 25 Feb 2015 03:54 PM
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