Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You

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Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You John Fitzgerald Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th President of the United States of America at noon on January 20th, 1961. He then delivered his inaugural speech in The National Center for Public Policy Research's Archive of Historical Documents. Kennedy’s speech, one that Thurston Clarke referred to as “...the speech that changed America.” may quite possibly have done just that. Kennedy’s speech sought to convey many messages to the American people. It, at the time, speaks of a world which is “very different now” and notes the importance and prevalence of change in American society and the rest of the world. The most important theme taken from Kennedy’s speech perhaps though is its call to arms of Americans to become active citizens and to fight not only the wrongs and injustices to freedom taking place throughout the world but also to advance the rights and freedoms experienced within the United States by turning inward and actively pursuing change for the betterment of American society. “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, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. This we pledge-and more.” (Kennedy, 1961) Words such as these throughout the speech as well as the famous line: “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country” clearly indicate Kennedy’s message to the American people, which is for every citizen to fight against oppression and promote freedom whenever possible. This message proves to become a prevailing theme throughout the 1960’s, leading to dramatic and progressive eve... ... middle of paper ... ... and motivated the American people as to what had to be done in the time going forward it also envisaged what the United States would look like by the end of the period. The excitement, optimism, and potential exuded from this speech reflect on what the 1960’s looked like as a whole. It is at the very least a symbol a of the drive, determination, and perseverance that led to so many great accomplishments and human triumphs, and at the very most a representation of the framework on which this entire era was based. Bibliography Isserman, Maurice, and Michael Kazin. American Divided: The Civil War of the 1960’s, 2nd Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States. Washington, D.C.: U.S. G.P.O.: for sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. G.P.O., 1989; Bartleby.com, 2001. www.bartleby.com/124/. [2008-06-01].
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