John F. Kennedy Quotes 184 Sourced Quotes

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (29 May 1917 – 22 November 1963) was the 35th President of the United States, a brother of Robert F. Kennedy and Ted Kennedy, and the first husband of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Here are 184 real John F. Kennedy quotes ordered by their popularity online. The most quoted quotes on the web appear first. Questionable and fake quotes are excluded. Sources and related information are shown after each quote. We hope you find these quotes useful. If there is anything we can do to improve this article, your feedback is welcome. If you find these quotes helpful, please share them.

1. “Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans--born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage--and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, Inaugural Address: Inaugural address, Washington D.C. (20 January 1961) (video file). In his speech President Kennedy urges American citizens to participate in public service and "ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." This is also the speech he delivered announcing the dawn of a new era as young Americans born in the 20th century first assumed leadership of the Nation. The quote "Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans" is one of seven quotes inscribed on the walls at the gravesite of John F. Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery. One can see it inscribed on the walls at the gravesite of John F. Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery.

2. “The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, Address to ANPA: Address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association (27 April 1961) Audio President Kennedy's address was delivered to the American Newspaper Publishers Association at a Bureau of Advertising dinner held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. In his speech President Kennedy addresses his discontent with the press's news coverage before, during, and after the Bay of Pigs incident, suggesting that there is a need for "far greater public information" and "far greater official secrecy."

3. “Two years ago I told this body that the United States had proposed, and was willing to sign, a limited test ban treaty. Today that treaty has been signed. It will not put an end to war. It will not remove basic conflicts. It will not secure freedom for all. But it can be a lever, and Archimedes, in explaining the principles of the lever, was said to have declared to his friends: ‘Give me a place where I can stand--and I shall move the world.’ My fellow inhabitants of this planet: Let us take our stand here in this Assembly of nations. And let us see if we, in our own time, can move the world to a just and lasting peace.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, UN speech: Address Before the 18th General Assembly of the United Nations (20 September 1963). In his speech the President discusses the recently signed treaty banning atmospheric nuclear weapons tests (later known as the Partial Test Ban Treaty or Limited Test Ban Treaty), remarking that peace may be attainable when two nations with incompatible ideologies negotiate with each other. The President famously asks, "Space offers no problems of sovereignty…Why, therefore, should man's first flight to the moon be a matter of national competition?" President Kennedy also explains that the task of maintaining peace and decreasing global tension must be shared by all nations. He proposes ways for the United Nations to increase and improve their efforts in developing countries, specifically focusing on health, human rights, agriculture, communication, and the environment.

4. “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1962, Rice University speech: Address at Rice University on the Nation's Space Effort, Houston, TX (12 September 1962). In his speech the President discusses the necessity for the United States to become an international leader in space exploration and famously states, "We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

5. “To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom--and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, Inaugural Address: Inaugural address, Washington D.C. (20 January 1961) (video file). In his speech President Kennedy urges American citizens to participate in public service and "ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." This is also the speech he delivered announcing the dawn of a new era as young Americans born in the 20th century first assumed leadership of the Nation.

6. “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1962 Address to Latin American diplomats at the White House (13 March 1962) http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=9100&st=&st1=

7. “Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was ‘civis Romanus sum.’ Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is ‘Ich bin ein Berliner.’”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, Ich bin ein Berliner: Ich bin ein Berliner (26 June 1963). This speech was given by American President John F. Kennedy on 26 June 1963 at 'Rathaus Schöneberg' in West-Berlin, Germany. It was presented in the midst of a five-nation tour of Western Europe. In his speech President Kennedy discusses his hopes for the reunification of Germany, and emphasizes the philosophical differences between capitalism and communism, noting, "Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free." In his remarks President Kennedy famously proclaims, "Ich bin ein Berliner." The final lines have become the most famous.

8. “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.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, Inaugural Address: Inaugural address, Washington D.C. (20 January 1961) (video file). In his speech President Kennedy urges American citizens to participate in public service and "ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." This is also the speech he delivered announcing the dawn of a new era as young Americans born in the 20th century first assumed leadership of the Nation.

9. “To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do--for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, Inaugural Address: Inaugural address, Washington D.C. (20 January 1961) (video file). In his speech President Kennedy urges American citizens to participate in public service and "ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." This is also the speech he delivered announcing the dawn of a new era as young Americans born in the 20th century first assumed leadership of the Nation.

10. “Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: As quoted in Mayor (1984) by Ed Koch

11. “Now the trumpet summons us again--not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are--but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, ‘rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation’--a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself. Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, Inaugural Address: Inaugural address, Washington D.C. (20 January 1961) (video file). In his speech President Kennedy urges American citizens to participate in public service and "ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." This is also the speech he delivered announcing the dawn of a new era as young Americans born in the 20th century first assumed leadership of the Nation. The bold portions are one of seven quotes inscribed on the walls at the gravesite of John F. Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery.

12. “John F. Kennedy: ‘Annual Message to the Congress on the State of the Union.,’ January 14, 1963. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, Third State of the Union Address

13. “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, Speech at Amherst College: Remarks upon receiving an honorary degree, Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts (October 26, 1963); reported in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1963, p. 817. In his speech President Kennedy explains the importance of public service from educated citizens, and describes the role of an artist in society, noting Frost’s contributions to American arts, culture, and ideology. The President discusses the nature of strength and power, famously stating, “When power leads men towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.”

14. “War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: Undated Letter to a Navy friend. Also mentioned by William Safire in his 2007-08-26 "On Language" article "Warrior" in the New York Times rubric Magazines. Also uoted in A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House, Arthur Schlesinger (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1965), page 88.

15. “Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction. We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, Inaugural Address: Inaugural address, Washington D.C. (20 January 1961) (video file). In his speech President Kennedy urges American citizens to participate in public service and "ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." This is also the speech he delivered announcing the dawn of a new era as young Americans born in the 20th century first assumed leadership of the Nation.

16. “Children are the world's most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963 Re: United States Committee for UNICEF July 25, 1963," Box 11, President's Outgoing Executive Correspondence Series, White House Central Chronological File, Presidential Papers, Papers of John F. Kennedy.

17. “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.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, Inaugural Address: Inaugural address, Washington D.C. (20 January 1961) (video file). In his speech President Kennedy urges American citizens to participate in public service and "ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." This is also the speech he delivered announcing the dawn of a new era as young Americans born in the 20th century first assumed leadership of the Nation. This is one of seven quotes inscribed on the walls at the gravesite of John F. Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery.

18. “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1962 Address at a White House dinner honoring Nobel Prize winners (29 April 1962), quoted in The White House Diary, at the JFK Library

19. “The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis’. One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger — but recognize the opportunity.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: Speech in Indianapolis, Indiana (12 April 1959) (see also Wikipedia:Chinese word for "crisis")

20. “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.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, Inaugural Address: Inaugural address, Washington D.C. (20 January 1961) (video file). In his speech President Kennedy urges American citizens to participate in public service and "ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." This is also the speech he delivered announcing the dawn of a new era as young Americans born in the 20th century first assumed leadership of the Nation.

21. “We must use time as a tool, not as a couch.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961 "Address in New York City to the National Association of Manufacturers (496)," December 5, 1961, Public Papers of the Presidents: John F. Kennedy, 1961.

22. “‘Radio and Television Report to the American People on the Berlin Crisis, July 25, 1961’ President Kennedy's was speech addressed to the American people regarding the impending possibility of war between the United States and the Soviet Union (USSR) over the crisis in Berlin, Germany. In his speech the President addresses the Soviet Union's attempts to cut off America's access to West Berlin, thus making it impossible to secure freedom from communism for the people of Berlin. The President goes on to discuss the imminent threat of nuclear war and his plan to increase funding and manpower for the military, provide appropriate communications for air raid warnings, and ensure that all Americans have access to fall-out shelters should a nuclear holocaust occur.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, Berlin Crisis speech

23. “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.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963 Radio and television report to the American people on civil rights (June 11, 1963); reported in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1963, p. 468.

24. “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.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, Civil Rights Address: The Civil Rights Address was a speech on civil right], delivered on radio and television by U.S. President John F. Kennedy from the Oval Office on June 11, 1963 in which he proposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In his speech the President responds to the threats of violence and obstruction on the University of Alabama campus following desegregation attempts, explaining that the United States was founded on the principle that all men are created equal and thus, all American students are entitled to attend public educational institutions, regardless of race. He also discusses how discrimination affects education, public safety, and international relations, noting that the country cannot preach freedom internationally while ignoring it domestically. The President asks Congress to enact legislation protecting all Americans' voting rights, legal standing, educational opportunities, and access to public facilities, but recognizes that legislation alone cannot solve the country's problems concerning race relations.

25. “One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free. They are not yet freed from the bonds of injustice. They are not yet freed from social and economic oppression. And this Nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, Civil Rights Address: The Civil Rights Address was a speech on civil right], delivered on radio and television by U.S. President John F. Kennedy from the Oval Office on June 11, 1963 in which he proposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In his speech the President responds to the threats of violence and obstruction on the University of Alabama campus following desegregation attempts, explaining that the United States was founded on the principle that all men are created equal and thus, all American students are entitled to attend public educational institutions, regardless of race. He also discusses how discrimination affects education, public safety, and international relations, noting that the country cannot preach freedom internationally while ignoring it domestically. The President asks Congress to enact legislation protecting all Americans' voting rights, legal standing, educational opportunities, and access to public facilities, but recognizes that legislation alone cannot solve the country's problems concerning race relations.

26. “Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, reverend clergy, fellow citizens, we observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom--symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning--signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, Inaugural Address: Inaugural address, Washington D.C. (20 January 1961) (video file). In his speech President Kennedy urges American citizens to participate in public service and "ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." This is also the speech he delivered announcing the dawn of a new era as young Americans born in the 20th century first assumed leadership of the Nation.

27. “If a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved. All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, Inaugural Address: Inaugural address, Washington D.C. (20 January 1961) (video file). In his speech President Kennedy urges American citizens to participate in public service and "ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." This is also the speech he delivered announcing the dawn of a new era as young Americans born in the 20th century first assumed leadership of the Nation.

28. “The greater our knowledge increases the greater our ignorance unfolds.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1962, Rice University speech: Address at Rice University on the Nation's Space Effort, Houston, TX (12 September 1962). In his speech the President discusses the necessity for the United States to become an international leader in space exploration and famously states, "We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

29. “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 we're going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God's blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1962, Rice University speech: Address at Rice University on the Nation's Space Effort, Houston, TX (12 September 1962). In his speech the President discusses the necessity for the United States to become an international leader in space exploration and famously states, "We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

30. “In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, Inaugural Address: Inaugural address, Washington D.C. (20 January 1961) (video file). In his speech President Kennedy urges American citizens to participate in public service and "ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." This is also the speech he delivered announcing the dawn of a new era as young Americans born in the 20th century first assumed leadership of the Nation.

31. “No government or social system is so evil that its people must be considered as lacking in virtue.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, American University speech: Commencement Address at American University, June 10, 1963 (10 June 1963). In his speech the President asks the graduates to re-examine their attitudes towards peace, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War, famously remarking, "If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can make the world safe for diversity." The President also announces that he, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan have agreed to hold discussions concerning a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty. Finally, he explains that the United States will not conduct atmospheric nuclear tests on the condition that other countries uphold this same promise.

32. “Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. 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 God's work must truly be our own.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, Inaugural Address: Inaugural address, Washington D.C. (20 January 1961) (video file). In his speech President Kennedy urges American citizens to participate in public service and "ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." This is also the speech he delivered announcing the dawn of a new era as young Americans born in the 20th century first assumed leadership of the Nation. This is one of seven quotes inscribed on the walls at the gravesite of John F. Kennedy, Arlington National Cemetery.

33. “A wall is a hell of a lot better than a war.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: Upon hearing about the construction of the Berlin Wall, as quoted in "Savage century" in "The Sunday Times'' (28 May 2006)

34. “Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed--and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment-- the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution- -not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply ‘give the public what it wants’--but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion. This means greater coverage and analysis of international news--for it is no longer far away and foreign but close at hand and local. It means greater attention to improved understanding of the news as well as improved transmission. And it means, finally, that government at all levels, must meet its obligation to provide you with the fullest possible information outside the narrowest limits of national security--and we intend to do it.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, Address to ANPA: Address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association (27 April 1961) Audio President Kennedy's address was delivered to the American Newspaper Publishers Association at a Bureau of Advertising dinner held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. In his speech President Kennedy addresses his discontent with the press's news coverage before, during, and after the Bay of Pigs incident, suggesting that there is a need for "far greater public information" and "far greater official secrecy."

35. “In short, we are neither ‘warmongers’ nor ‘appeasers,’ neither ‘hard’ nor ‘soft.’ We are Americans, determined to defend the frontiers of freedom, by an honorable peace if peace is possible, but by arms if arms are used against us. And if we are to move forward in that spirit, we shall need all the calm and thoughtful citizens that this great University can produce, all the light they can shed, all the wisdom they can bring to bear. It is customary, both here and around the world, to regard life in the United States as easy. Our advantages are many. But more than any other people on earth, we bear burdens and accept risks unprecedented in their size and their duration, not for ourselves alone but for all who wish to be free.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, Address at the University of Washington: Address at the University of Washington's 100th Anniversary Program (16 November 1961). As 1961 drew to an end, the United States and the Soviet Union were at the height of the Cold War, and Cuba and Berlin were hot spots. In April 1961, the United States Central Intelligence Agency had organized 1,400 armed Cuban exiles in a failed attempt to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. On August 20, 1961, East Germany erected a five foot high concrete wall dividing East and West Berlin and on October 28, 1961, a tense, 16-hour face off occurred at the Berlin Wall between Soviet and American tanks. On August 31, 1961, the Soviet Union began conducting aboveground nuclear tests, detonating perhaps 15 bombs during September 1961. Local newspapers advised Seattleites on how to construct and stock personal nuclear fallout shelters. It was in this context that President John F. Kennedy arrived at Boeing Airport in Seattle, Washington on November 16, 1961 to deliver a major foreign policy speech at the University of Washington Centennial Convocation. In his speech President Kennedy discusses the creation of educational institutions through the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890. He also addresses the current state of American international relations, with emphasis on the challenges of defending freedom and maintaining peace as a world power.

36. “There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1962, Rice University speech: Address at Rice University on the Nation's Space Effort, Houston, TX (12 September 1962). In his speech the President discusses the necessity for the United States to become an international leader in space exploration and famously states, "We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

37. “A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on. Ideas have endurance without death.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963 Remarks Recorded for the Opening of a USIA Transmitter at Greenville, North Carolina, 8 February 1963 (Audio) (01:29 - 01:40).
Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. (Text of speech).

38. “This country cannot afford to be materially rich and spiritually poor.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, Third State of the Union Address

39. “The men who create power make an indispensable contribution to the Nation's greatness, but the men who question power make a contribution just as indispensable, especially when that questioning is disinterested, for they determine whether we use power or power uses us.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, Speech at Amherst College: Remarks upon receiving an honorary degree, Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts (October 26, 1963); reported in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1963, p. 817. In his speech President Kennedy explains the importance of public service from educated citizens, and describes the role of an artist in society, noting Frost’s contributions to American arts, culture, and ideology. The President discusses the nature of strength and power, famously stating, “When power leads men towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.”

40. “That requires only one kind of defense policy, a policy summed up in a single word ‘first.’ I do not mean ‘first, if,’ I do not mean ‘first, but,’ I do not mean ‘first, when,’ but I mean ‘First, period.’”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1960 John F. Kennedy: "Speech of Senator John F. Kennedy, Civic Auditorium, Seattle, WA," September 6, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley.

41. “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 opinion without the discomfort of thought.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1962 Commencement address, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (11 June 1962) http://millercenter.org/scripps/archive/speeches/detail/3370

42. “O God, thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source and Related Info: 1963 "Remarks in New York City at the Dedication of the East Coast Memorial to the Missing at Sea (203)," May 23 1963, Public Papers of the Presidents: John F. Kennedy, 1963.
An old Breton fishermen's prayer that Admiral Rickover had inscribed on plaques that he gave to newly commissioned submarine captains. Rickover presented President Kennedy with one of these plaques, which sat on his desk in the Oval Office.

43. “Dante once said that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a period of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source and Related Info: 1963 At the signing of a charter establishing the German Peace Corps, Bonn, West Germany (24 June 1963),
• Dante placed those who "non furon ribelli né fur fedeli" — were neither for nor against God, in a special region near the mouth of Hell; the lowest part of Hell, a lake of ice, was for traitors. According to Bartleby.com Kennedy's remark may have been inspired by the passage from Dante Alighieri’s La Comedia Divina “Inferno,” canto 3, lines 35–42 (1972) passage as translated by Geoffrey L. Bickersteth: "by those disbodied wretches who were loth when living, to be either blamed or praised. [...] Fear to lose beauty caused the heavens to expel these caitiffs; nor, lest to the damned they theng ave cause to boast, receives them the deep hell." A more modern-sounding translation from the foregoing Dante’s Inferno passage was translataed 1971 by Mark Musa thus: “They are mixed with that repulsive choir of angels … undecided in neutrality. Heaven, to keep its beauty, cast them out, but even Hell itself would not receive them for fear the wicked there might glory over them.”
According to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum President Kennedy got his facts wrong. Dante never made this statement. The closest to what President Kennedy meant is in the Inferno where the souls in the ante-room of hell, who "lived without disgrace and without praise," and the coward angels, who did not rebel but did not resist the cohorts of Lucifer, are condemned to being whirled through the air by great winds while being stung by wasps and horseflies.

44. “The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were and ask ‘why not?’.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963 Speech delivered to the Dail (Parliament of Ireland) (28 June 1963)

45. “And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worth while, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: ‘I served in the United States Navy.’”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963 Remarks at the U.S. Naval Academy (1 August 1963), Public Papers of the Presidents 321, p. 620

46. “And is not peace, in the last analysis, basically a matter of human rights—the right to live out our lives without fear of devastation—the right to breathe air as nature provided it—the right of future generations to a healthy existence?”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, American University speech: Commencement Address at American University, June 10, 1963 (10 June 1963). In his speech the President asks the graduates to re-examine their attitudes towards peace, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War, famously remarking, "If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can make the world safe for diversity." The President also announces that he, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan have agreed to hold discussions concerning a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty. Finally, he explains that the United States will not conduct atmospheric nuclear tests on the condition that other countries uphold this same promise.

47. “If by a ‘Liberal’ they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a ‘Liberal,’ then I'm proud to say I'm a ‘Liberal.’”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1960 Acceptance of the New York Liberal Party nomination (14 September 1960) TurnLeft:What is a Liberal?

48. “If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all — except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1960 Saturday Review (29 October 1960), p. 44.

49. “We have a right to expect that the Negro community will be responsible, will uphold the law, but they have a right to expect that the law will be fair, that the Constitution will be color blind, as Justice Harlan said at the turn of the century.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, Civil Rights Address: The Civil Rights Address was a speech on civil right], delivered on radio and television by U.S. President John F. Kennedy from the Oval Office on June 11, 1963 in which he proposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In his speech the President responds to the threats of violence and obstruction on the University of Alabama campus following desegregation attempts, explaining that the United States was founded on the principle that all men are created equal and thus, all American students are entitled to attend public educational institutions, regardless of race. He also discusses how discrimination affects education, public safety, and international relations, noting that the country cannot preach freedom internationally while ignoring it domestically. The President asks Congress to enact legislation protecting all Americans' voting rights, legal standing, educational opportunities, and access to public facilities, but recognizes that legislation alone cannot solve the country's problems concerning race relations.

50. “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.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: Pierre Salinger, With Kennedy (1966), Chapter 1: Lancer to Wayside, page 1

51. “Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end—where all men and all churches are treated as equal—where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice—where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind—and 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.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1960, Speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association: On Sept. 12, 1960, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy gave a major speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, a group of Protestant ministers, on the issue of his religion. At the time, many Protestants questioned whether Kennedy's Roman Catholic faith would allow him to make important national decisions as president independent of the church. Kennedy addressed those concerns before a skeptical audience of Protestant clergy. Full text online avaiable at Wikisource and here.

52. “Today, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident, or miscalculation, or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, UN speech: Address before the General Assembly of the United Nations (25 September 1961). In his speech President Kennedy addresses the recent death of U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold, presents six proposals for the new Disarmament Program, and provides information on the current crises in Berlin, Germany, Laos, and South Vietnam.

53. “...what really counts is not the immediate act of courage or of valor, but those who bear the struggle day in and day out - not the sunshine patriots but those who are willing to stand for a long period of time.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1962 "Remarks at the White House to Members of the American Legion (70)," March 1, 1962, Public Papers of the Presidents: John F. Kennedy, 1962.

54. “We have had our failures, but so have others, even if they do not admit them. And they may be less public.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1962, Rice University speech: Address at Rice University on the Nation's Space Effort, Houston, TX (12 September 1962). In his speech the President discusses the necessity for the United States to become an international leader in space exploration and famously states, "We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

55. “This nation has tossed its cap over the wall of space, and we have no choice but to follow it.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963 "Remarks in San Antonio at the Dedication of the Aerospace Medical Health Center (472)," November 21, 1963, Public Papers of the Presidents: John F. Kennedy, 1963. (The original anecdote from whence Kennedy derived this comparison is in An Only Child, Frank O'Connor, London: MacMillan & Co. Ltd., 1961; p. 180.)

56. “World peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbor—it requires only that they live together in mutual tolerance, submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement. And history teaches us that enmities between nations, as between individuals, do not last forever. However fixed our likes and dislikes may seem, the tide of time and events will often bring surprising changes in the relations between nations and neighbors.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, American University speech: Commencement Address at American University, June 10, 1963 (10 June 1963). In his speech the President asks the graduates to re-examine their attitudes towards peace, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War, famously remarking, "If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can make the world safe for diversity." The President also announces that he, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan have agreed to hold discussions concerning a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty. Finally, he explains that the United States will not conduct atmospheric nuclear tests on the condition that other countries uphold this same promise.

57. “While we proceed to safeguard our national interests, let us also safeguard human interests. And the elimination of war and arms is clearly in the interest of both.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, American University speech: Commencement Address at American University, June 10, 1963 (10 June 1963). In his speech the President asks the graduates to re-examine their attitudes towards peace, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War, famously remarking, "If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can make the world safe for diversity." The President also announces that he, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan have agreed to hold discussions concerning a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty. Finally, he explains that the United States will not conduct atmospheric nuclear tests on the condition that other countries uphold this same promise.

58. “Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. And when Americans are sent to Vietnam or West Berlin, we do not ask for whites only. It ought to be possible, therefore, for American students of any color to attend any public institution they select without having to be backed up by troops.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, Civil Rights Address: The Civil Rights Address was a speech on civil right], delivered on radio and television by U.S. President John F. Kennedy from the Oval Office on June 11, 1963 in which he proposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In his speech the President responds to the threats of violence and obstruction on the University of Alabama campus following desegregation attempts, explaining that the United States was founded on the principle that all men are created equal and thus, all American students are entitled to attend public educational institutions, regardless of race. He also discusses how discrimination affects education, public safety, and international relations, noting that the country cannot preach freedom internationally while ignoring it domestically. The President asks Congress to enact legislation protecting all Americans' voting rights, legal standing, educational opportunities, and access to public facilities, but recognizes that legislation alone cannot solve the country's problems concerning race relations.

59. “We celebrate the past to awaken the future.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1960 "Remarks at the 25th Anniversary of the Signing of the Social Security Act," Hyde Park, New York August 14, 1960, box 910, Senate Speech Files, John F. Kennedy Papers, Pre-Presidential Papers, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.

60. “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute—where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishoners for whom to vote—where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference—and 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.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1960, Speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association: On Sept. 12, 1960, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy gave a major speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, a group of Protestant ministers, on the issue of his religion. At the time, many Protestants questioned whether Kennedy's Roman Catholic faith would allow him to make important national decisions as president independent of the church. Kennedy addressed those concerns before a skeptical audience of Protestant clergy. Full text online avaiable at Wikisource and here.

61. “That is the kind of America in which I believe. And it represents the kind of Presidency in which I believe—a 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.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1960, Speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association: On Sept. 12, 1960, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy gave a major speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, a group of Protestant ministers, on the issue of his religion. At the time, many Protestants questioned whether Kennedy's Roman Catholic faith would allow him to make important national decisions as president independent of the church. Kennedy addressed those concerns before a skeptical audience of Protestant clergy. Full text online avaiable at Wikisource and here.

62. “Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961 Address to the Canadian Parliament (17 May 1961)

63. “Peace need not be impracticable, and war need not be inevitable. By defining our goal more clearly, by making it seem more manageable and less remote, we can help all peoples to see it, to draw hope from it, and to move irresistibly toward it.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, American University speech: Commencement Address at American University, June 10, 1963 (10 June 1963). In his speech the President asks the graduates to re-examine their attitudes towards peace, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War, famously remarking, "If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can make the world safe for diversity." The President also announces that he, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan have agreed to hold discussions concerning a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty. Finally, he explains that the United States will not conduct atmospheric nuclear tests on the condition that other countries uphold this same promise.

64. “The quality and spirit of our own society must justify and support our efforts abroad.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, American University speech: Commencement Address at American University, June 10, 1963 (10 June 1963). In his speech the President asks the graduates to re-examine their attitudes towards peace, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War, famously remarking, "If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can make the world safe for diversity." The President also announces that he, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan have agreed to hold discussions concerning a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty. Finally, he explains that the United States will not conduct atmospheric nuclear tests on the condition that other countries uphold this same promise.

65. “We preach freedom around the world, and we mean it, and we cherish our freedom here at home, but are we to say to the world, and much more importantly, to each other that this is a land of the free except for the Negroes; that we have no second-class citizens except Negroes; that we have no class or caste system, no ghettoes, no master race except with respect to Negroes?”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, Civil Rights Address: The Civil Rights Address was a speech on civil right], delivered on radio and television by U.S. President John F. Kennedy from the Oval Office on June 11, 1963 in which he proposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In his speech the President responds to the threats of violence and obstruction on the University of Alabama campus following desegregation attempts, explaining that the United States was founded on the principle that all men are created equal and thus, all American students are entitled to attend public educational institutions, regardless of race. He also discusses how discrimination affects education, public safety, and international relations, noting that the country cannot preach freedom internationally while ignoring it domestically. The President asks Congress to enact legislation protecting all Americans' voting rights, legal standing, educational opportunities, and access to public facilities, but recognizes that legislation alone cannot solve the country's problems concerning race relations.

66. “We in this country, in this generation, are — by destiny rather than choice — the 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.’”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, Remarks Prepared for Delivery at the Trade Mart in Dallas: The following quotes were meant to be delivered on 22 November 1963, in Dallas, Texas. They were however never delivered; Kennedy was on his way to the Trade Mart when he was assassinated.

67. “If more politicians knew poetry, and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place in which to live.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, June 14, 1956," box 895, Senate Speech Files, John F. Kennedy Papers, Pre-Presidential Papers, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.

68. “I would not look with favor upon a President working to subvert the first amendment's guarantees of religious liberty. Nor would our system of checks and balances permit him to do so—and neither do I look with favor upon those who would work to subvert Article VI of the Constitution by requiring a religious test—even by indirection—for it. If they disagree with that safeguard they should be out openly working to repeal it.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1960, Speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association: On Sept. 12, 1960, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy gave a major speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, a group of Protestant ministers, on the issue of his religion. At the time, many Protestants questioned whether Kennedy's Roman Catholic faith would allow him to make important national decisions as president independent of the church. Kennedy addressed those concerns before a skeptical audience of Protestant clergy. Full text online avaiable at Wikisource and here.

69. “I want a Chief Executive whose public acts are responsible to all groups and obligated to none—who can attend any ceremony, service or dinner his office may appropriately require of him—and whose fulfillment of his Presidential oath is not limited or conditioned by any religious oath, ritual or obligation.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1960, Speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association: On Sept. 12, 1960, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy gave a major speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, a group of Protestant ministers, on the issue of his religion. At the time, many Protestants questioned whether Kennedy's Roman Catholic faith would allow him to make important national decisions as president independent of the church. Kennedy addressed those concerns before a skeptical audience of Protestant clergy. Full text online avaiable at Wikisource and here.

70. “If I should lose on the real issues, I shall return to my seat in the Senate, satisfied that I had tried my best and was fairly judged. But if this election is decided on the basis that 40 million Americans lost their chance of being President on the day they were baptized, then it is the whole nation that will be the loser, in the eyes of Catholics and non-Catholics around the world, in the eyes of history, and in the eyes of our own people.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1960, Speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association: On Sept. 12, 1960, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy gave a major speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, a group of Protestant ministers, on the issue of his religion. At the time, many Protestants questioned whether Kennedy's Roman Catholic faith would allow him to make important national decisions as president independent of the church. Kennedy addressed those concerns before a skeptical audience of Protestant clergy. Full text online avaiable at Wikisource and here.

71. “The great revolution in the history of man, past, present and future, is the revolution of those determined to be free.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961 John F. Kennedy: "Message to Chairman Khrushchev Concerning the Meaning of Events in Cuba," April 18, 1961. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.

72. “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 art—this is one of the fascinating challenges of these days.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1962 Look magazine article "The Arts in America", (December 18, 1962), p. 110; also reported in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1962, p. 907. Inscribed on the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C.

73. “The theory of independence is as old as man himself, and it was not invented in this hall. But it was in this hall that the theory became a practice; that the word went out to all, in Thomas Jefferson's phrase, that ‘the God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.’ And today this Nation--conceived in revolution, nurtured in liberty, maturing in independence--has no intention of abdicating its leadership in that worldwide movement for independence to any nation or society committed to systematic human oppression.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1962, Address at Independence Hall: Address at Independence Hall by John F. Kennedy in Independence Square at Independence Hall in Philadelphia (4 July 1962). In his speech President Kennedy praises the American democratic system which encourages differences and allows for dissent, discusses the enduring relevance of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, and addresses the role of the United States in relation to the emerging European Community.

74. “As apt and applicable as the Declaration of Independence is today, we would do well to honor that other historic document drafted in this hall--the Constitution of the United States. For it stressed not independence but interdependence--not the individual liberty of one but the indivisible liberty of all.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1962, Address at Independence Hall: Address at Independence Hall by John F. Kennedy in Independence Square at Independence Hall in Philadelphia (4 July 1962). In his speech President Kennedy praises the American democratic system which encourages differences and allows for dissent, discusses the enduring relevance of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, and addresses the role of the United States in relation to the emerging European Community.

75. “If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1962, Rice University speech: Address at Rice University on the Nation's Space Effort, Houston, TX (12 September 1962). In his speech the President discusses the necessity for the United States to become an international leader in space exploration and famously states, "We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

76. “‘...we must think and act not only for the moment but for our time. I am reminded of the story 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.'’”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963 "Address in Berkeley at the University of California (109)," March 23, 1962 Public Papers of the Presidents: John F. Kennedy, 1962.

77. “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. Today’s military rejects include tomorrow’s hard core unemployed.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963 President JOHN F. KENNEDY, statement on the need for training or rehabilitation of Selective Service rejectees, September 30, 1963.—Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1963, p. 753.. See also: John F. Kennedy: "Statement by the President on the Need for Training or Rehabilitation of Selective Service Rejectees.," September 30, 1963. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.

78. “We can say with some assurance that, although children may be the victims of fate, they will not be the victims of our neglect.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963 "Remarks upon signing the Maternal and Child Health and Mental Retardation Planning Bill (434)," October 24, 1963, Public Papers of the President: John F. Kennedy, 1963.

79. “But Goethe tells us in his greatest poem that Faust lost the liberty of his soul when he said to the passing moment: ‘Stay, thou art so fair.’ And our liberty, too, is endangered if we pause for the passing moment, if we rest on our achievements, if we resist the pace of progress. For time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source:   • Documents on International Affairs, 1963, Royal Institute of International Affairs, ed. Sir John Wheeler Wheeler-Bennett, p. 36.

80. “When power leads men towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truth which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, Speech at Amherst College: Remarks upon receiving an honorary degree, Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts (October 26, 1963); reported in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1963, p. 817. In his speech President Kennedy explains the importance of public service from educated citizens, and describes the role of an artist in society, noting Frost’s contributions to American arts, culture, and ideology. The President discusses the nature of strength and power, famously stating, “When power leads men towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.”

81. “I think 'Hail to the Chief' has a nice ring to it.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: When asked what his favorite song was, as quoted in The Ultimate Book of Useless Information (2007) by Noel Botham

82. “I’m an idealist without illusions.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: Comment about JFK by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as quoted in the Audiobook Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy (December 27, 2011) by Caroline Kennedy (Author, Narrator), Michael Beschloss (Author, Narrator), Jacqueline Kennedy (Narrator) & [[Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.] (Narrator) and published by Hyperion AudioBooks.

83. “After visiting these places, you can easily understand how that within a few years Hitler will emerge from the hatred that surrounds him now as one of the most significant figures who ever lived. He had boundless ambition for his country which rendered him a menace to the peace of the world, but he had a mystery about him in the way that he lived and in the manner of his death that will live and grow after him. He had in him the stuff of which legends are made.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: After visiting such Nazi strongholds as were found in Berchtesgaden and Kehlsteinhaus; Personal diary (1 August 1945); published in Prelude to Leadership (1995)

84. “I can assure you that every degree of mind and spirit that I possess will be devoted to the long-range interests of the United States and to the cause of freedom around the world.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1960 Acceptance speech (9 November 1960)

85. “But let me say, with respect to other countries, that I am wholly opposed to the state being used by any religious group, Catholic or Protestant, to compel, prohibit, or persecute the free exercise of any other religion. And I hope that you and I condemn with equal fervor those nations which deny their Presidency to Protestants and those which deny it to Catholics.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1960, Speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association: On Sept. 12, 1960, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy gave a major speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, a group of Protestant ministers, on the issue of his religion. At the time, many Protestants questioned whether Kennedy's Roman Catholic faith would allow him to make important national decisions as president independent of the church. Kennedy addressed those concerns before a skeptical audience of Protestant clergy. Full text online avaiable at Wikisource and here.

86. “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. Our requirements for world leadership, our hopes for economic growth, and the demands of citizenship itself in an era such as this all require the maximum development of every young American's capacity. The human mind is our fundamental resource.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961 Special Message to the Congress on Education (February 20, 1961)

87. “I believe we should go to the moon. But I think every citizen of this country as well as the Members of the Congress should consider the matter carefully in making their judgment, to which we have given attention over many weeks and months, because it is a heavy burden, and 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. If we are not, we should decide today and this year.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: • Source: Wikiquote: "John F. Kennedy" (Quotes, 1961, Speech to Special Joint Session of Congress:
Delivered to a Joint Session of Congress on May 25, 1961 President Kennedy announced in his Special Message to the Congress on urgent national needs the goal of sending a Man to the Moon before the 1960's are over. More specifically President Kennedy asked for an additional billion to billion over the next five years for the space program, proclaiming that “this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” President Kennedy settled upon this dramatic goal as a means of focusing and mobilizing our lagging space efforts. He did not justify the needed expenditure on the basis of science and exploration, but placed the program clearly in the camp of the competing ideologies of democracy vs. communism.)

88. “Disarmament without checks is but a shadow--and a community without law is but a shell.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, UN speech: Address before the General Assembly of the United Nations (25 September 1961). In his speech President Kennedy addresses the recent death of U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold, presents six proposals for the new Disarmament Program, and provides information on the current crises in Berlin, Germany, Laos, and South Vietnam.

89. “Peace is not solely a matter of military or technical problems--it is primarily a problem of politics and people. And unless man can match his strides in weaponry and technology with equal strides in social and political development, our great strength, like that of the dinosaur, will become incapable of proper control--and like the dinosaur vanish from the earth.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, UN speech: Address before the General Assembly of the United Nations (25 September 1961). In his speech President Kennedy addresses the recent death of U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold, presents six proposals for the new Disarmament Program, and provides information on the current crises in Berlin, Germany, Laos, and South Vietnam.

90. “Political sovereignty is but a mockery without the means of meeting poverty and illiteracy and disease. Self-determination is but a slogan if the future holds no hope.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, UN speech: Address before the General Assembly of the United Nations (25 September 1961). In his speech President Kennedy addresses the recent death of U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold, presents six proposals for the new Disarmament Program, and provides information on the current crises in Berlin, Germany, Laos, and South Vietnam.

91. “For a city or a people to be truly free they must have the secure right, without economic, political or police pressure, to make their own choice and to live their own lives.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, UN speech: Address before the General Assembly of the United Nations (25 September 1961). In his speech President Kennedy addresses the recent death of U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold, presents six proposals for the new Disarmament Program, and provides information on the current crises in Berlin, Germany, Laos, and South Vietnam.

92. “...I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1962 "Remarks at a Closed-circuit Television Broadcast on Behalf of the National Cultural Center (527)," November 29, 1962, Public Papers of the President: John F. Kennedy, 1962.

93. “It is increasingly clear that no matter what party is in power, so long as our national security needs keep rising, an economy hampered by restrictive tax rates will never produce enough jobs or enough profits.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1962 "Address and Question and Answer Period at the Economic Club of New York (549)," December 14, 1962, Public Papers of the President: John F. Kennedy, 1962.

94. “On this fourth day of July, 1962, we who are gathered at this same hall, entrusted with the fate and future of our States and Nation, declare now our vow to do our part to lift the weights from the shoulders of all, to join other men and nations in preserving both peace and freedom, and to regard any threat to the peace or freedom of one as a threat to the peace and freedom of all.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1962, Address at Independence Hall: Address at Independence Hall by John F. Kennedy in Independence Square at Independence Hall in Philadelphia (4 July 1962). In his speech President Kennedy praises the American democratic system which encourages differences and allows for dissent, discusses the enduring relevance of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, and addresses the role of the United States in relation to the emerging European Community.

95. “There are those who regard this history of past strife and exile as better forgotten. But, to use the phrase of Yeats, let us not casually reduce ‘that great past to a trouble of fools.’ For we need not feel the bitterness of the past to discover its meaning for the present and the future.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963 Speech to a joint session of the Dail and the Seanad, Dublin, Ireland (28 June 1963)

96. “The essence of Vanderbilt is still learning, the essence of its outlook is still liberty, and liberty and learning will be and must be the touchstones of Vanderbilt University and of any free university in this country or the world. I say two touchstones, yet they are almost inseparable, inseparable if not indistinguishable, for liberty without learning is always in peril, and learning without liberty is always in vain.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, Address at Vanderbilt University: Remarks in Nashville at the 90th Anniversary Convocation of Vanderbilt University (18 May 1963). In May of 1963, President Kennedy added his weight to the federal government’s preparation for the impending clash with the state of Alabama over the integration of the University of Alabama. Less than a week after the bombing of a Black American’s home and hotel in Birmingham, President Kennedy made a one-day trip to Tennessee and Alabama, saluting the ninetieth anniversary of Vanderbilt University and the thirtieth anniversary of the Tennessee Valley Authority, but in addition reminding his listeners of their roles and responsibilities as citizens. In a spirited and eloquent speech before an estimated crowd of 30,000 people in the stadium at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee on May 18, 1963, President Kennedy reminded his listeners that it falls to the educated man to assume the greater obligations of citizenship—for the pursuit of learning, to serve the public and to uphold the law.

97. “No treaty, however much it may be to the advantage of all, however tightly it may be worded, can provide absolute security against the risks of deception and evasion. But it can—if it is sufficiently effective in its enforcement and if it is sufficiently in the interests of its signers—offer far more security and far fewer risks than an unabated, uncontrolled, unpredictable arms race.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, American University speech: Commencement Address at American University, June 10, 1963 (10 June 1963). In his speech the President asks the graduates to re-examine their attitudes towards peace, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War, famously remarking, "If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can make the world safe for diversity." The President also announces that he, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan have agreed to hold discussions concerning a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty. Finally, he explains that the United States will not conduct atmospheric nuclear tests on the condition that other countries uphold this same promise.

98. “Partnership is not a posture but a process-a continuous process that grows stronger each year as we devote ourselves to common tasks.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, Address in the Assembly Hall at the Paulskirche in Frankfurt: John F. Kennedy: "Address in the Assembly Hall at the Paulskirche in Frankfurt, West Germany" (June 25, 1963). Reported in The Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1963, p. 519; and in Kennedy, The Burden and the Glory (1964), p. 115. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley].

99. “I look forward to a great future for America, a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose. I look forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and beauty, which will protect the beauty of our natural environment, which will preserve the great old American houses and squares and parks of our national past, and which will build handsome and balanced cities for our future.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, Speech at Amherst College: Remarks upon receiving an honorary degree, Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts (October 26, 1963); reported in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1963, p. 817. In his speech President Kennedy explains the importance of public service from educated citizens, and describes the role of an artist in society, noting Frost’s contributions to American arts, culture, and ideology. The President discusses the nature of strength and power, famously stating, “When power leads men towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.”

100. “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. And I look forward to a world which will be safe not only for democracy and diversity but also for personal distinction.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1963, Speech at Amherst College: Remarks upon receiving an honorary degree, Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts (October 26, 1963); reported in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1963, p. 817. In his speech President Kennedy explains the importance of public service from educated citizens, and describes the role of an artist in society, noting Frost’s contributions to American arts, culture, and ideology. The President discusses the nature of strength and power, famously stating, “When power leads men towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.”

101. “I'm always rather nervous about how you talk about women who are active in politics, whether they want to be talked about as women or as politicians.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source and Related Info: Quoted in Bill Adler, "The Presidency," The Wit of President Kennedy (1964).
• [JFK was speaking]...To a group of women delegates to the United Nations who had suggested that there might one day be a woman President.

102. “Whether I serve one or two terms in the Presidency, I will find myself at the end of that period at what might be called the awkward age--too old to begin a new career and too young to write my memoirs.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: Quoted in A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House, Arthur Schlesinger (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1965), page 1017. According to a footnote in Schlesinger's manuscript (1st draft, page 1378), this was stated on February 13, 1961.

103. “Let us not despair but act. Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past - let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: "Loyola College Alumni Banquet, Baltimore, Maryland, February 18, 1958," box 899, Senate Speech Files, John F. Kennedy Papers, Pre-Presidential Papers, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

104. “Their platform, made up of left-over Democratic planks, has the courage of our old convictions. Their pledge is a pledge to the status quo — and today there can be no status quo.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1960 John F. Kennedy: "Address of Senator John F. Kennedy Accepting the Democratic Party Nomination for the Presidency of the United States - Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles," July 15, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.

105. “I believe in an America where the rights that I have described are enjoyed by all, regardless of their race or their creed or their national origin - where every citizen is free to think and speak as he pleases and write and worship as he pleases - and where every citizen is free to vote as he pleases, without instructions from anyone, his employer, the union leader or his clergyman.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1960 John F. Kennedy: "Speech by Senator John F. Kennedy, Convention Hall, Philadelphia, PA," October 31, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.

106. “We have all seen these circus elephants complete with tusks, ivory in their head and thick skins, who move around the circus ring and grab the tail of the elephant ahead of them.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1960 JFK commented on members of members of the Republican party. Source: "Remarks at the Cow Palace, San Francisco, CA," November 2 1960, box 914, Senate Speech Files, John F. Kennedy Papers, Pre-Presidential Papers, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.

107. “There may be those who wish to hear more--more promises to this group or that--more harsh rhetoric about the men in the Kremlin--more assurances of a golden future, where taxes are always low and subsidies ever high. But my promises are in the platform you have adopted--our ends will not be won by rhetoric and we can have faith in the future only if we have faith in ourselves.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1960, The New Frontier: John F. Kennedy's Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech. Delivered on 15 July 1960 to the Democratic National Convention at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The "New Frontier" term was first mentioned on July 15, 1960 when Kennedy accepted nomination of his party for Presidency. The speech later became known as "The New Frontier." In his remarks, then Senator Kennedy famously states, "The New Frontier of which I speak 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 intend to ask of them."

108. “Our Constitution wisely assigns both joint and separate roles to each branch of the government; and a President and a Congress who hold each other in mutual respect will neither permit nor attempt any trespass.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961 First State of the Union Address (30 January 1961)

109. “Where nature makes natural allies of us all, we can demonstrate that beneficial relations are possible even with those with whom we most deeply disagree-and this must someday be the basis of world peace and world law.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961 First State of the Union Address (30 January 1961)

110. “The deadly arms race, and the huge resources it absorbs, have too long overshadowed all else we must do. We must prevent that arms race from spreading to new nations, to new nuclear powers and to the reaches of outer space.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961 First State of the Union Address (30 January 1961)

111. “We have become more and more not a nation of athletes but a nation of spectators.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961 "Remarks at National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame Banquet (496)," December 5 1961. Public Papers of the Presidents: John F. Kennedy, 1961.

112. “I wonder how it is with you, Harold? If I don't have a woman for three days, I get terrible headaches.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961 Conversation with Harold Macmillan, in Bermuda (1961) as recounted by Richard Reeves in his book President Kennedy: Profile of Power (1994)

113. “During the last sixty days, I have been at the task of constructing an administration. It has been a long and deliberate process. Some have counseled greater speed. Others have counseled more expedient tests. But I have been guided by the standard John Winthrop set before his shipmates on the flagship Arbella three hundred and thirty-one years ago, as they, too, faced the task of building a new government on a perilous frontier. ‘We must always consider,’ he said, ‘that we shall be as a city upon a hill – the eyes of all people are upon us.’ Today the eyes of all people are truly upon us – and our governments, in every branch, at every level, national, state and local, must be as a city upon a hill – constructed and inhabited by men aware of their great trust and their great responsibilities. For we are setting out upon a voyage in 1961 no less hazardous than that undertaken by the Arbella in 1630. We are committing ourselves to tasks of statecraft no less awesome than that of governing the Massachusetts Bay Colony, beset as it was then by terror without and disorder within. History will not judge our endeavors – and a government cannot be selected – merely on the basis of color or creed or even party affiliation. Neither will competence and loyalty and stature, while essential to the utmost, suffice in times such as these.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, The City upon a Hill speech: Speech to Massachusetts State Legislature. Delivered on (9 January 1961) in The State House, Boston; Congressional Record, January 10, 1961, vol. 107, Appendix, p. A169. In this speech, given eleven days prior to his inauguration, the President-elect quotes John Winthrop's "city upon a hill" sermon and highlights four qualities that he hopes to bring to his presidency: courage, judgment, integrity and dedication.

114. “The complacent, the self-indulgent, the soft societies are about to be swept away with the debris of history. Only the strong, only the industrious, only the determined, only the courageous, only the visionary who determine the real nature of our struggle can possibly survive.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, Address before the American Society of Newspaper Editors

115. “The great question which confronted this body in 1945 is still before us: whether man's cherished hopes for progress and peace are to be destroyed by terror and disruption, whether the ‘foul winds of war’ can be tamed in time to free the cooling winds of reason, and whether the pledges of our Charter are to be fulfilled or defied--pledges to secure peace, progress, human rights and world law.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, UN speech: Address before the General Assembly of the United Nations (25 September 1961). In his speech President Kennedy addresses the recent death of U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold, presents six proposals for the new Disarmament Program, and provides information on the current crises in Berlin, Germany, Laos, and South Vietnam.

116. “But we are well aware that all issues of principle are not settled, and that principles alone are not enough. It is therefore our intention to challenge the Soviet Union, not to an arms race, but to a peace race- -to advance together step by step, stage by stage, until general and complete disarmament has been achieved. We invite them now to go beyond agreement in principle to reach agreement on actual plans.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, UN speech: Address before the General Assembly of the United Nations (25 September 1961). In his speech President Kennedy addresses the recent death of U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold, presents six proposals for the new Disarmament Program, and provides information on the current crises in Berlin, Germany, Laos, and South Vietnam.

117. “Ladies and gentlemen of this Assembly, the decision is ours. Never have the nations of the world had so much to lose, or so much to gain. Together we shall save our planet, or together we shall perish in its flames. Save it we can--and save it we must--and then shall we earn the eternal thanks of mankind and, as peacemakers, the eternal blessing of God.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, UN speech: Address before the General Assembly of the United Nations (25 September 1961). In his speech President Kennedy addresses the recent death of U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold, presents six proposals for the new Disarmament Program, and provides information on the current crises in Berlin, Germany, Laos, and South Vietnam.

118. “The basis of self-government and freedom requires the development of character and self-restraint and perseverance and the long view. And these are qualities which require many years of training and education.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1961, Address at the University of Washington: Address at the University of Washington's 100th Anniversary Program (16 November 1961). As 1961 drew to an end, the United States and the Soviet Union were at the height of the Cold War, and Cuba and Berlin were hot spots. In April 1961, the United States Central Intelligence Agency had organized 1,400 armed Cuban exiles in a failed attempt to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. On August 20, 1961, East Germany erected a five foot high concrete wall dividing East and West Berlin and on October 28, 1961, a tense, 16-hour face off occurred at the Berlin Wall between Soviet and American tanks. On August 31, 1961, the Soviet Union began conducting aboveground nuclear tests, detonating perhaps 15 bombs during September 1961. Local newspapers advised Seattleites on how to construct and stock personal nuclear fallout shelters. It was in this context that President John F. Kennedy arrived at Boeing Airport in Seattle, Washington on November 16, 1961 to deliver a major foreign policy speech at the University of Washington Centennial Convocation. In his speech President Kennedy discusses the creation of educational institutions through the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890. He also addresses the current state of American international relations, with emphasis on the challenges of defending freedom and maintaining peace as a world power.

119. “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining--by filling three basic gaps in our anti-recession protection.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Kennedy, John Fitzgerald. “John F. Kennedy Quotes: 184 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/jfk-quotes.html#119

Source: 1962 Second State of the Union Address (11 January 1962)

120. “The life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, in the life of a nation, is very close to the center of a nation's purpose...and is a test of the quality of a nation's civilization.”

—John F. Kennedy

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Source: 1962 "LOOK Magazine Article 'The Arts in America' (552)" December 18, 1962, Public Papers of the President: John F. Kennedy, 1962. Inscribed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C.

121. “A great new edifice is not built overnight. It was 11 years from the Declaration of Independence to the writing of the Constitution. The construction of workable federal institutions required still another generation. The greatest works of our Nation's founders lay not in documents and in declarations, but in creative, determined action. The building of the new house of Europe has followed the same practical, purposeful course. Building the Atlantic partnership now will not be easily or cheaply finished.”

—John F. Kennedy

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