President John F. Kennedy’s Historic Inauguration Speech and Famous Words Challenging All Americans and People of the World
Hear and watch John F. Kennedy being sworn in as the thirty-fifth President of the United States and delivering his iconic inaugural speech on 20 January 1961 here.
Kennedy’s inaugural address is considered among the best presidential inaugural speeches in American history. The address took 13 minutes and 42 seconds to deliver.
The inauguration of John F. Kennedy as the 35th President of the United States was held on Friday, January 20, 1961 at the eastern portico of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.. The inauguration marked the commencement of John F. Kennedy’s only term as President and of Lyndon B. Johnson’s only term as Vice President. Kennedy died 2 years, 306 days into this term, and Johnson succeeded to the presidency.
Kennedy took office following the November 1960 presidential election, in which he narrowly defeated Richard Nixon, the then–incumbent Vice President. He became the youngest person elected to the office at the age of 43.
While his presidency lasted only 34 months, his political accomplishments helped cement his legacy as one of the greatest U.S. presidents. A transcript of his historic speech follows (Indented passages added by this writer for emphasis):
January 20, 1961
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.
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.
We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. 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.
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.
This much we pledge–and more.
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.
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.
To those peoples in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is 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.
To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge–to convert our good words into good deeds–in a new alliance for progress–to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this Hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.
To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support–to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective–to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak–and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.
- 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.
But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course–both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind’s final war.
- So let us begin anew–remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.
Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.
Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms–and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.
Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce.
Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah–to “undo the heavy burdens . . . (and) let the oppressed go free.”
And if a beach-head 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.
In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than 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.
- 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?
In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility–I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it–and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
- And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here 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 Fitzgerald Kennedy was born on May 29, 1917 in Brookline, Mass. His parents were Rose Fitzgerald and Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Sr. He was assassinated on November 22, 1963 in while traveling with his wife, Jacqueline, Texas Governor John Connally, and Connally’s wife, Nellie, in a presidential motorcade in Dallas, Texas. Photo below was taken shortly the assassination.
“Only Massive CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, in Every City, Town and Village in the United States, Can Bring About the Abrupt But Imperative Changes in the U. S. Government and People’s Lifestyles Today to Make a Difference Fighting Climate Change”
Then, and only then, do we stand any chance of beating global warming. We must stand by each other, whenever there is trouble, as did John and Yoko in “STAND BY ME” (Ben E King).
Other major California fires this early in the season are too numerous to mention.
A new study has found that without action on climate change, the millennial generation as a whole will lose nearly $8.8 trillion in lifetime income dealing with the economic, health and environmental impacts of climate change.
This post is being offered as a work in process. Readers are encouraged to submit constructive comments, all of which will be considered in final development of the post.
The post is also inspired by the Steve Miller Band’s performance of the song “Fly Like an Eagle”, played to a full capacity Breese Steven Field venue in Madison, Wisconsin, on July 1, 2016. The song can be heard and the lyrics read by clicking on the above description. It is well worth listening too and applies more now due to all the strife in the world than ever before.
Due to wars, poverty and the threatening and dangerous changes to climates around the world (23 people died from extreme rain fall and flooding in West Virginia), president Obama and other world leaders have told us actions to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are “urgent”. Certainly, former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson (1916 – 2005) founder of the first Earth Day, held April 22, 1970 (and every 46 years thereafter on April that same date), would see little to celebrate our country’s 240th birthday today.
Record levels of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and oceans, leading to deadly heatwaves, storms, and record levels of global average temperature. Travel via driving and flying contribute more than one-third of the U.S.’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.
According to a study by Sabrina McCormick, Jaime Madrigano, and Emma Zinsmeister: “Preparing for Extreme Heat Events: Practices in Identifying Mortality”, published in April 2016 in the journal Health Security, the authors make the following assertion:
“Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of extreme heat events. These events affect cities in increasingly abrupt and catastrophic ways; yet, many of the deaths caused by exposure to heat have gone unnoticed or are inaccurately identified, resulting in a lack of urgency in addressing this issue. We aim to address this under-identification of deaths from heat waves in order to better assess heat risk. We investigated death records in New York City from 2010 to 2012 to identify characteristics that vary between deaths officially categorized as caused by heat wave exposure (oHDs) and those possibly caused by heat (pHDs). We found that oHDs were more often black and of a younger age than would typically be expected. We also found that there was a lack of evidence to substantiate that an oHD had occurred, using the NYC official criteria. We conclude that deaths from heat waves are not being accurately recorded, leading to a mis-estimation….”
Science shows us that the global warming is contributing to higher sea levels and a 30 per cent increase in the acidity of the oceans, leading to declines of species and in losses to fishing and tourism industries, worldwide.
Meanwhile, poverty and income inequality in the United States and elsewhere are having devastating effects on millions of individuals, families and so many unfortunate children. A recent study shows children growing up in poverty suffer permanent brain damage.
President John F. Kennedy told us in 1961 to”Ask not what your country can do for, ask what you can do for your country”. The best thing U.S. citizens can do everyday is to minimize their daily and annual greenhouse gas emissions.
The Declaration of Independence, adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, reads as follows: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed …”
Our government officials at the state and federal level have failed in not passing legislation that meaningfully reduces Wisconsin and the U.S.’ catastrophic levels of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. What is needed is that our government at the federal and state level should by now have enacted programs which offer meaningful positive financial incentives (dollars) to the public to reduce total annual motor vehicle driving, flying, and using electricity and heating that have been derived through fossil fuel burning.
Reducing the amount of fossil fuel burning in the state and country would have “cost reducing” benefits as well, such as reductions in oil spills, train derailment explosions, and the financial and cost of expanding highways, airports and fossil fuel fired power plants.
Burning fossil fuels, whether this is done in highway motor vehicles, jet airplanes, sea going ships, recreational motor boats, gas or coal-fired electricity generation plants, or in furnaces to heat one’s home, has a pronounced adverse effect on public and animal health, worldwide, by increasing breathable air particle pollution while at the same time adding to the record high and ever growing, catastrophe creating, quantities of heat generating greenhouse gas volumes in the atmosphere.
The mounting volumes of these gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide) are known to be warming the planet, accelerating rising sea levels around the world, causing more acidic and warmer oceans (bad for sea life and coral reefs), stronger and more costly and deadly storms (Hurricane Sandy, Houston, TX and West Virginia floods), and unparalleled drought and wildfires (California , Alberta Canada, Africa, Australia, Middle East, which has led to major upheavals in countries’ economies, population migrations and known calamities of major human and other life fatalities.
According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), monthly global average temperatures for May 2016 were the highest recorded monthly average global temperatures recorded since the agency initiated monitoring Earth’s monthly temperature values in 1880, setting a string of consecutive record high monthly average temperatures for our Earth’s combined global ocean and land surfaces in the 137-year record.
May 2016 was characterized by warmer to much warmer than average conditions across Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Central America, northern South America, northern Europe, Africa, Oceania, and parts of southern and eastern Asia, according to the Land & Ocean Temperature Percentiles map above. Areas with record warmth included much of Southeast Asia and parts of northern South America, Central America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and northern and eastern Australia. Near- to cooler-than-average conditions were present across much of the contiguous U.S., central and southern South America, and much of central Asia.
The sooner that people living today accept the fact that their own actions – such as driving gasoline and other greenhouse gas emitting fuels powering their highway motor vehicles, and choosing to fly today’s jet fuel (a fossil fuel) powered airplanes, and using electricity derived from burning fossil fuels and burning natural gas (another fossil fuel) – and deforestation and cement paving and other human activities that are known to be adding to the already known dangerous and abnormally high concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and warming and acidifying of the earth’s oceans – the better off things will be for all future life on Earth.
According to leading scientists, the earth is in the midst of its “6th extinction”, and only a major societal, political and economic change away from an extraction, exploitation, and conservation minded citizenry will prevent the otherwise inevitable.
Viewed at Sundance Cinema, Thursday, June 2, 2016, Madison, Wisconsin and highly recommended to anyone who cares about the dangers jeopardizing all earth’s species should the status quo be upheld.
Sponsor by Endangered Species Coalition; Friends of Wisconsin wolf; International Crane Foundation; Wolf Watcher Coalition; Henry Vilas Zoo, Madison and Dane County; The Humane Society of the United States; Alliance for Great Lakes Wildlife; Alliance for Animal; The HO-CHUNK NATION.
Historic Showing of Global Warming and Its Causes and Effects This Wednesday Night, May 25, 2016, in Madison at the Barrymore Theatre
Unless things change really greatly, AND FAST!, and we all together put the brakes on our fossil-fuel-burning-dependent world economy, NOTHING ELSE WILL MATTER! Doing so will not only be for the better now, in 2016, but it will be far better for the sustainable living of Earth’s future populations, other animals, and all other forms of life.
The film “This Changes Everything” is a MUST SEE for all who care about making the right decisions now, and in the future, for the good of humanity.
The new Avi Lewis film will be screened at 7 p.m. tonight in the Barrymore Theater, 2090 Atwood Avenue. The film delivers a powerful message on climate change through the language of floods, storms and droughts. Sponsored by the Madison Institute, 350 Madison, Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Sierra Club.
Sadly, we are all now witnesses to the realization of global climate change, predicted by many dedicated global warming scientists over a number of years, as well as by other strong minded and conscientious individuals (some who are no longer with us). Those who dared to voice their concern about society’s almost mindless burning of fossil fuels in virtually all the economic sectors, especially for electricity, heating, transportation, and frivolous recreational pursuits, were systematically ridiculed, demonized or simply (and purposely) ignored (especially by the commercial and “right” wing media sources).
This occurred despite the overwhelming evidence that the concentration levels of greenhouses gases had been building up in the atmosphere (and the oceans) to unprecedented and dangerous volumes, according to the claims of the world’s most renown climate scientists following those statistics. a direct result of humans burning fossil fuels in virtually all the economic sectors, the heavy energy use required to provide a meat-dominated consumer diet, plus the use of products made from distant locations, which require, therefore, require either very fossil fuel energy dependent (and heavily government subsidized) air travel, land (highway system also heavily subsidized and the building of upkeep of it is also a major greenhouse gas contributor as is its use, or sea travel.
Following the screening of the film, which will be beginning at 7:00 pm, there will be a discussion of local issues and planned action. Doors open at 6:30 pm for anyone interested in participating in per-screening discussions.
Hosted by a 350 Madison climate action team, for more information, visit http://www.350.org, contact the Barrymore Theatre, 2090 Atwood Avenue.
Also see April 20, 2016, blog post.