The man whose memory is still fresh.
|JFK, still standing tall
JFK continues to live in the hearts of millions all over the world.
What makes John Fitzgerald Kennedy different from others? Certainly not his “privileged childhood of elite private schools, sailboats, servants, and summer homes.”
Lasting glory doesn’t spring from material trappings but from a reaching out personality, a true spirit committed to country’s welfare and a vision capable of treating all human beings on the same footing irrespective of race and culture.
It is this aura that still surrounds the man in the White House painting.
A man of incorruptible political ideals, a man who withstood the buffeting winds of tragedy in personal and public life, a man with the incredible ability to motivate fellow human beings and make things come true, a personality that instilled unlimited confidence and hope in his countrymen, “Jack” Kennedy, still rates first among equals. He was one of the youngest, to have inherited the post of the most powerful executive in the world. For a surprisingly short career, his presidential tenure witnessed quite a few dynamic events, in American political history.
His assassination brought tears to the eyes of millions all over the world. For some inexpressible reason, people reacted to his death as they would to that of someone close, someone valuable. It might be because he was as a human being many notches above the ordinary, and the mediocre.
As a vulnerable human being, he did make his share of miscalculations. As a thinking man however, he was able to save situations in matters of governance.
There are two among innumerable examples that allow us more than a glimpse into his perceptive grasp of political chess play. One concerns the external safety of America, and the other a crucial issue of internal conflict.
His defense of America, against the possible Russian attack from Cuba is still talked about with great admiration and gratitude. His firm stand, his surveillance team of experts, his direct warning to the hostile Russians were responsible in chasing away the hovering enemy.
His affirmations regarding national security and liberty, made during the Inaugural Address in 1961 proved prophetic.
“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.”
One of his election promises was to introduce the Bill Rights. In spite of political pressures from some quarters he tried to introduce the Bill, which got delayed, and later on materialized after his death. Regarding equality of races, we are again reminded of the memorable lines from the same speech.
“ ...the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.”
One of the most magnetic aspects about JFK was his oratorical skill. He excelled not only as a writer but also as a speaker of extraordinary influence. He was a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for his book, Profiles in Courage (1956).
His style had forceful message, fine argument and appeal to commonsense.
Who’d ever care to mention the economically backward nations in an Inaugural Address?
The fact that he did so, struck adoration in the hearts of poor millions all over the world.
“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.... If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot help the few who are rich.”(From Inaugural Address)
In the above words, we can notice the unerring rationalization and a warm sympathy for the “have-nots”.
It may be noted that the establishment of Peace Corps, with the aim of helping the helpless was his brainchild.
A leader lives in hearts of generations of people due to his strong motivating presence and the skill to communicate. Kennedy had both in plenty. His challenge to the fellow Americans continues to provide fodder for thought, word and action.
“So, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you-ask what you can do to 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.”
The above concluding remarks of that memorable Inaugural speech continue to provide guidance and inspiration for the world.
“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 good conscience our 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, that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”
Words like pearls of wisdom! Surely they will spread all over the world and help us encounter selfishness, greed and fear successfully.
His smile, his love of humanity and empathy make him different from others, and so in the hearts of millions, JFK continues to live.
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First Place Winner (June) in the Stroll Down the Memory Lane monthly contest.