On the 20th of January, 1961, John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, gave an inauguration speech so memorable that people still find inspiration from to this day. The most historic moment of President Kennedy’s inauguration speech is when he directly addressed the citizens of the United States of America and the world. “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.” after acknowledging his fellow americans, he further proceeded with acknowledging the world. “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.” (Kennedy, John F. Presidential inauguration speech. 20th, January. 1961.) The president’s speech was revolutionary for the new generation of Americans. JFK made it clear that he had a vision of change; not for the United States alone, but for all mankind.
One of President Kennedy’s visions of change was to alter the face of warfare. Instead of relying on soldiers to fight our wars, he wanted to fight wars with political debates and negotiations. “Without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed, and no republic can survive.” (Kennedy, John F. Speech to the American Newspaper Publishers Association, 1961) To make this vision reality, he knew that he had to improve government relationships between countries. “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.” (Kennedy, 1961) President Kennedy’s continuous strive to resolve conflicts before it turned into warfare was fueled by fear that one day mankind would cause the extinction of the human race. “Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.” (Kennedy, John. F. Address to the United Nations, 1961)
President Kennedy also wanted to help those in need. “To those people 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 required–not 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.” (Kennedy, 1961) According to these words, we see that Kennedy wanted to help those in need become independent and self-sufficient. In other words, his goal was to help people obtain his or her own independent freedom wherever they may be.
Furthermore, JFK urged the world to be charitable and assist those in need. This was very important since we were dawning on a new age where we were capable of doing so for others. “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.” (Kennedy, 1961)
In addition to urging people to be generous to one another, president Kennedy also encouraged people to embody the change that we, the people, wanted for our nation. “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” (Kennedy, 1961) The statement from the former president is true, for he himself is a representative of what one person can do. JFK inspired a nation to be the change they wanted to see, and people are still influenced by his words to this day.
President John F. Kennedy is commonly known for presenting one of the most memorable inauguration speech in American history. His words “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.” are so recognizable that this quote is common knowledge for the majority of Americans. JFK had a vision for a brighter future. He wanted to inspire mankind to create a world without War or suffrage, where individuals are generous and willing to become the change they want to see.