John Fitzgerald Kennedy was one of the United States’ greatest presidents. Jan. 20, 2011, marks the 50th anniversary of his inauguration speech. According to the Boston Globe, Congress paid tribute to the anniversary of JFK’s speech. In the rotunda of the US Capitol, congressional officials, aides, and Kennedy family members listened to the 14-minute, 1,355-word speech that Kennedy delivered in 1961. The speech was historic and many people still remember the words today. People remembered Kennedy in their own ways to mark the occasion.
According to bartleby.com, the most famous line from the JFK inaugural speech is “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you-ask what you can do for your country.”
Kennedy’s words resonate today because we live in a time when the economy is bad and many people are focusing on only what the country can do for them. People do not volunteer as much, recruitment numbers for the armed forces is not very high, and many people are mad at the government.
The political climate has changed since JFK made that speech. At the time, the racial tension in the United States was at an all time high. Kennedy and his family members wanted civil rights for African Americans; sadly, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was not enacted until after JFK had been assassinated in Dallas. Today, minorities such as African Americans finally got their civil rights, which many attribute to not only civil rights leaders but Kennedy as well.
Racial Tone in the United States
Today, the racial tone in the country has left a lot to be desired. President Obama has been called Hitler, a Nazi, a Muslim, communist and other negative terms by politicians and even members of the public. He is a man who is bi-racial: African American and Caucasian. We have seen a climate of homophobia toward homosexuals, with many GOP members implying that gay people should not serve openly in the military.
What the Future Holds
No one knows exactly what the future holds for the United States. However, JFK envisioned a country where people got their hands dirty and helped each other be better people. He wanted the country to be one where anyone could come here and be treated as equal.
This is not true today; people are judged on appearances, sexual orientation, race, religion, income level, and employment level. All of us could be better people. JFK knew no one is perfect but we can all do our part to help our country be great.