Forty-seven years ago, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy died in Dallas, Texas, the victim of an assassination that shook the country to its very core.
Born on May 29, 1917, President Kennedy was only 46 years old at the time. Prior to becoming the 35th President of the United States, Kennedy became a naval war hero who received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, for his bravery and courage in aiding his fellow crewmates when his PT 109 boat was rammed by a Japanese destroyer during WWII on August 2, 1943.
A young, handsome, charming war hero, America saw John Kennedy as a ray of hope for the country. The three years John and Jackie Kennedy spent in the White House were referred to as the Camelot years:
The snow may never slush upon the hillside
by nine pm the moonlight must appear.
In short, there's simply not a more congenial spot
for happy ever-aftering than here in "Camelot".
Children growing up in the violent decade of the sixties, witnessed the assassinations of three great leaders all within the short span of five years; John and Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King.
They witnessed violent radical protests of the Vietnam War, as well. Although I was young at the time, I believe these events changed America like no other decade, before or since.
Over the years, I have collected my favorite quotes of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Although these words are nearly a half a century old, I think they perfectly describe what is good and right for America. I think his words reflect what America is, and who Americans are, that still hold true today.
"And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."
"Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men."
"I hope that no American will waste his franchise and throw away his vote by voting either for me or against me solely on account of my religious affiliation. It is not relevant."
"Israel was not created in order to disappear - Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom."
"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 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."
"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."
This quote has a special meaning for me, as I have always been a big fan of the American Space Program. This quote came from a speech John Kennedy delivered to Congress on May 5, 1961:
"I believe 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 earth."
Conspiracy theories surround Kennedy's assassination are still going on today. People are still fascinated by the Kennedys, by anything Kennedy. There have been some not so nice things said about President Kennedy throughout the decades since he was taken from us.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy had faith in America, knew what Americans were made of, and believed in American exceptionalism.
So many years have gone by since that November 22nd in Dallas, but the memory still tugs at our hearts, as we remember exactly where we were and what we were doing on that fateful afternoon.