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 ...
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.
This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.
This increase in the life span and in the number of our senior citizens presents this Nation with increased opportunities: the opportunity to draw upon their skill and sagacityand the opportunity to provide the respect and recognition they have earned. It is not enough for a great nation merely to have added new years to lifeour objective must also be to add new life to those years.
Without belittling the courage with which men have died, we should not forget those acts of courage with which men have lived. The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of a final moment; but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy. A man does what he mustin spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressuresand that is the basis of all human morality. In whatever arena of life one may meet the challenge of courage, whatever may be the sacrifices he faces if he follows his consciencethe loss of his friends, his fortune, his contentment, even the esteem of his fellow meneach man must decide for himself the course he will follow. The stories of past courage can define that ingredientthey can teach, they can offer hope, they can provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul.
So, let us not be blind to our differencesbut let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.
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.
Now the trumpet summons us againnot as a call to bear arms, though arms we neednot as a call to battle, though embattled we arebut a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulationa struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.
We cannot expect that everyone, to use the phrase of a decade ago, will talk sense to the American people. But we can hope that fewer people will listen to nonsense. And the notion that this Nation is headed for defeat through deficit, or that strength is but a matter of slogans, is nothing but just plain nonsense.
Never before has man had such capacity to control his own environment, to end thirst and hunger, to conquer poverty and disease, to banish illiteracy and massive human misery. We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the worldor to make it the last.
Is this Nation stating it cannot afford to spend an additional $600 million to help the developing nations of the world become strong and free and independentan amount less than this countrys annual outlay for lipstick, face cream, and chewing gum?
To those peoples in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is requirednot because the communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
We in this country, in this generation, areby destiny rather than choicethe watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of peace on earth, good will toward men. That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolutewhere no Catholic prelate would tell the President how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to votewhere no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preferenceand where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him. I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewishwhere no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical sourcewhere no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officialsand where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all. For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jewor a Quakeror a Unitarianor a Baptist. It was Virginias harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped lead to Jeffersons statute of religious freedom. Today I may be the victimbut tomorrow it may be youuntil the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril. Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday endwhere all men and all churches are treated as equalwhere every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choicewhere there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kindand where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood. That is the kind of America in which I believe. And it represents the kind of Presidency in which I believea 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.
With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth Gods work must truly be our own.
And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for youask 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.
I look forward to an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft. I look forward to an America which will steadily raise the standards of artistic accomplishment and which will steadily enlarge cultural opportunities for all of our citizens. And I look forward to an America which commands respect throughout the world not only for its strength but for its civilization as well.
There is a connection, hard to explain logically but easy to feel, between achievement in public life and progress in the arts. The age of Pericles was also the age of Phidias. The age of Lorenzo de Medici was also the age of Leonardo da Vinci. The age of Elizabeth was also the age of Shakespeare. And the New Frontier for which I campaign in public life, can also be a New Frontier for American art.
To further the appreciation of culture among all the people, to increase respect for the creative individual, to widen participation by all the processes and fulfillments of artthis is one of the fascinating challenges of these days.