Quotes by John F. Kennedy

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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 ...

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We would like to live as we once lived, but history will not permit it.

Life is unfair.
There is a terrific disadvantage in not having the abrasive quality of the press applied to you daily. Even though we never like it, and even though we wish they didn't write it, and even though we disapprove, there isn't any doubt that we could not do the job at all in a free society without a very, very active press.
When you have seven percent unemployed, you have ninety-three percent working.
But peace does not rest in the charters and covenants alone. It lies in the hearts and minds of all people. So let us not rest all our hopes on parchment and on paper, let us strive to build peace, a desire for peace, a willingness to work for peace in the hearts and minds of all of our people. I believe that we can. I believe the problems of human destiny are not beyond the reach of human beings.
We hold the view that the people make the best judgment in the long run.
When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.
Most of us are conditioned for many years to have a political viewpoint -- Republican or Democratic, liberal, conservative, or moderate. The fact of the matter is that most of the problems that we now face are technical problems, are administrative problems. They are very sophisticated judgments, which do not lend themselves to the great sort of passionate movements which have stirred this country so often in the past. [They] deal with questions which are now beyond the comprehension of most men.
When we got into office, the thing that surprised me most was to find that things were just as bad as we'd been saying they were.
As far as the job of President goes, its rewarding and I've given before this group the definition of happiness for the Greeks. I'll define it again: the full use of your powers along lines of excellence. I find, therefore, that the Presidency provides some happiness.
The day before my inauguration President Eisenhower told me, You'll find that no easy problems ever come to the President of the United States. If they are easy to solve, somebody else has solved them. I found that hard to believe, but now I know it is true.
The United States has to move very fast to even stand still.
I never know when I press these whether I am going to blow up Massachusetts or start the project.
The supreme reality of our time is the vulnerability of this planet.
In giving rights to others which belong to them, we give rights to ourselves and to our country.
If anyone is crazy enough to want to kill a president of the United States, he can do it. All he must be prepared to do is give his life for the president s.
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.
Great crises produce great men, and great deeds of courage.
We are under exercised as a nation. We look instead of play. We ride instead of walk. Our existence deprives us of the minimum of physical activity essential for healthy living.
A young man who does not have what it takes to perform military service is not likely to have what it takes to make a living.
People have not been horrified by war to a sufficient extent... War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige as the warrior does today.
Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. What is also true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on.
The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of the final moment; but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy.
For without belittling the courage with which men have died, we should not forget those acts of courage with which men have lived.
Man is still the most extraordinary computer of all.
Communism has never come to power in a country that was not disrupted by war or corruption, or both.
Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.
It might be said now that I have the best of both worlds: a Harvard education and a Yale degree.
We will neglect our cities to our peril, for in neglecting them we neglect the nation.
Washington is a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm.
The New Frontier I speak of is not a set of promises -- it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intent to ask of them.
You never know what's hit you. A gunshot is the perfect way.
In free society art is not a weapon. Artists are not engineers of the soul.
If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.
I see little of more importance to the future of our country and of civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist. If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.
Every American ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated. this is not the case.
The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.
The margin is narrow, but the responsibility is clear.
There is no city in the United States in which I can get a warmer welcome and fewer votes than Columbia, Ohio.
The supreme reality of our time is our indivisibility as children of God and the common vulnerability of this planet.
I look forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and beauty.
There is always inequity in life. Some men are killed in a war and some men are wounded, and some men never leave the country, and some men are stationed in the Antarctic and some are stationed in San Francisco. Its very hard in military or in personal life to assure complete equality. Life is unfair.
Lobbyists are in many cases expert technicians and capable of explaining complex and difficult subjects in a clear, understandable fashion. They engage in personal discussions with Members of Congress in which they can explain in detail the reasons for positions they advocate. Because our congressional representation is based on geographical boundaries, the lobbyists who speak for the various economic, commercial, and other functional interests of this country serve a very useful purpose and have assumed an important role in the legislative process.
War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.
For 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 opinions without the discomfort of thought.
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.
Of course, both major parties today seek to serve the national interest. They would do so in order to obtain the broadest base of support, if for no nobler reason. But when party and officeholder differ as to how the national interest is to be served, we must place first the responsibility we owe not to our party or even to our constituents but to our individual consciences.
Sometimes party loyalty asks too much.
And so it is that I carry with me from this State to that high and lonely office to which I now succeed more than fond memories and fast friendships. The enduring qualities of Massachusettsthe common threads woven by the Pilgrim and the Puritan, the fisherman and the farmer, the Yankee and the immigrantwill not be and could not be forgotten in the Nations Executive Mansion. They are an indelible part of my life, my convictions, my view of the past, my hopes for the future.
I am deeply touchednot as deeply touched as you have been coming to this dinner, but nevertheless it is a sentimental occasion.
Well, I am reading more and enjoying it less[laughter]and so on, but I have not complained nor do I plan to make any general complaints. I read and talk to myself about it, but I dont plan to issue any general statement on the press. I think that they are doing their task, as a critical branch, the fourth estate. And I am attempting to do mine. And we are going to live together for a period, and then go our separate ways. [Laughter].
And if we are to open employment opportunities in this country for members of all races and creeds, then the Federal Government must set an example. The President himself must set the key example. I am not going to promise a Cabinet post or any other post to any race or ethnic group. That is racism in reverse at its worst. So I do not promise to consider race or religion in my appointments if I am successful. I promise only that I will not consider them.
For of those to whom much is given, much is required. And when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each of usrecording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the stateour success or failure, in whatever office we hold, will be measured by the answers to four questions:First, were we truly men of couragewith the courage to stand up to ones enemiesand the courage to stand up, when necessary, to ones associatesthe courage to resist public pressure, as well as private greed?Secondly, were we truly men of judgmentwith perceptive judgment of the future as well as the pastof our mistakes as well as the mistakes of otherswith enough wisdom to know what we did not know and enough candor to admit it. Third, were we truly men of integritymen who never ran out on either the principles in which we believed or the men who believed in usmen whom neither financial gain nor political ambition could ever divert from the fulfillment of our sacred trust?Finally, were we truly men of dedicationwith an honor mortgaged to no single individual or group, and comprised of no private obligation or aim, but devoted solely to serving the public good and the national interest?Couragejudgmentintegritydedicationthese are the historic qualities which, with Gods help will characterize our Governments conduct in the 4 stormy years that lie ahead.
As they say on my own Cape Cod, a rising tide lifts all the boats. And a partnership, by definition, serves both partners, without domination or unfair advantage. Together we have been partners in adversitylet us also be partners in prosperity.
And we must face the fact that the United States is neither omnipotent or omniscientthat we are only 6 percent of the worlds populationthat we cannot impose our will upon the other 94 percent of mankindthat we cannot right every wrong or reverse every adversityand that therefore there cannot be an American solution to every world problem.
First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. I believe we should go to the moon. But there is no sense in agreeing or desiring that the United States take an affirmative position in outer space, unless we are prepared to do the work and bear the burdens to make it successful.
Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said Because it is there. Well, space is there, and were going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there.
In its [knowledges] light, we must think and act not only for the moment but for our time. I am reminded of the great French Marshal Lyautey, who once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow-growing and would not reach maturity for a hundred years. The Marshal replied, In that case, there is no time to lose, plant it this afternoon.
Theres an old saying that victory has 100 fathers and defeat is an orphan.
I dont think that unless a greater effort is made by the Government to win popular support that the war can be won out there. In the final analysis, it is their war. They are the ones who have to win it or lose it. We can help them, we can give them equipment, we can send our men out there as advisers, but they have to win it, the people of Viet-Nam, against the Communists.