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I ask that you offer to the political arena, and to the critical problems of our society which are decided therein, the benefit of the talents which society has helped to develop in you. I ask you to decide, as Goethe put it, whether you will be an anvilor a hammer. The question is whether you are to be a hammerwhether you are to give to the world in which you were reared and educated the broadest possible benefits of that education.

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Source Notes: Source: Senator JOHN F. KENNEDY, commencement address, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, June 8, 1958.Transcript, p. 2.The Home Book of Quotations, ed. Burton Stevenson, 9th ed., p. 84, no. 8 gives the quotation from Goethe as follows: Thou must be either anvil or hammer, citing his play, Der Gross-Cophta, act II, though it has not been found there.

A bit about John F. Kennedy ...

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 November 22, 1963), often referred to as John F. Kennedy, JFK, or Jack Kennedy, was the 35th President of the United States. He served from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. A member of the prominent Kennedy political family, he is considered an icon of American liberalism. During World War II, he served as a naval lieutenant in the Pacific theater and was cited for exceptional bravery for the rescue of his men. Kennedy is the youngest person ever to have been elected president of the United States, at the age of 43. (Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest ever to serve as President of the United States.)

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