Quotations by Kennedy, John F.


The education of our people should be a lifelong process by which we continue to feed new vigor into the lifestream of the Nation through intelligent, reasoned decisions. Let us not think of education only in terms of its costs, but rather in terms of the infinite potential of the human mind that can be realized through education. Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our Nation.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
“Proclamation 3422 – American Education Week, 1961” (25 Jul 1961)
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When I ran for Presidency of the United States, I knew that this country faced serious challenges, but I could not realize — nor could any man realize who does not bear the burdens of this office — how heavy and constant would be those burdens.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
“Radio and TV Report to the American People on the Berlin Crisis” (25 Jul 1961)
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We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
“Remarks on the 20th Anniversary of the Voice of America” (speech), Washington, DC (26 Feb 1962)
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Too often in the past, we have thought of the artist as an idler and dilettante and of the lover of arts as somehow sissy and effete. We have done both an injustice. The life of the artist is, in relation to his work, stern and lonely. He has labored hard, often amid deprivation, to perfect his skill. He has turned aside from quick success in order to strip his vision of everything secondary or cheapening. His working life is marked by intense application and intense discipline.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
“The Arts in America” (1962)
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Today some would say that those struggles are all over — that all the horizons have been explored — that all the battles have been won — that there is no longer an American frontier. But I trust that no one in this vast assemblage will agree with those sentiments. For the problems are not all solved and the battles are not all won — and we stand today on the edge of a New Frontier — the frontier of the 1960s, a frontier of unknown opportunities and paths, a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
“The New Frontier,” Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech, Democratic National Convention, Los Angeles (15 Jul 1960)
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But I think the American people expect more from us than cries of indignation and attack. The times are too grave, the challenge too urgent, and the stakes too high — to permit the customary passions of political debate. We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
“The New Frontier,” Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech, Democratic National Convention, Los Angeles (15 Jul 1960)
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Woodrow Wilson’s New Freedom promised our nation a new political and economic framework. Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal promised security and succor to those in need. But the New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises — it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them. It appeals to their pride, not to their pocketbook — it holds out the promise of more sacrifice instead of more security.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
“The New Frontier,” Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech, Democratic National Convention, Los Angeles (15 Jul 1960)
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But I tell you the New Frontier is here, whether we seek it or not. Beyond that frontier are the uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus. It would be easier to shrink back from that frontier, to look to the safe mediocrity of the past, to be lulled by good intentions and high rhetoric — and those who prefer that course should not cast their votes for me, regardless of party. But I believe the times demand new invention, innovation, imagination, decision. I am asking each of you to be pioneers on that New Frontier. My call is to the young in heart, regardless of age — to all who respond to the Scriptural call: “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed.” For courage — not complacency — is our need today — leadership — not salesmanship. And the only valid test of leadership is the ability to lead, and lead vigorously.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
“The New Frontier,” Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech, Democratic National Convention, Los Angeles (15 Jul 1960)
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Our ends will not be won by rhetoric and we can have faith in the future only if we have faith in ourselves.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
“The New Frontier,” Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech, Democratic National Convention, Los Angeles (15 Jul 1960)
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That is the question of the New Frontier. That is the choice our nation must make — a choice that lies not merely between two men or two parties, but between the public interest and private comfort — between national greatness and national decline — between the fresh air of progress and the stale, dank atmosphere of “normalcy” — between determined dedication and creeping mediocrity. All mankind waits upon our decision. A whole world looks to see what we will do. We cannot fail their trust, we cannot fail to try.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
“The New Frontier,” Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech, Democratic National Convention, Los Angeles (15 Jul 1960)
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The weakness of man should not weaken the image of God.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
(1962)
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The basis of effective government is public confidence.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
(Attributed)
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If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
(Attributed)
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Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
(Attributed)
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There are three things which are real: God, human folly and laughter. The first two are beyond our comprehension, so we must do what we can with the third.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
(Attributed)
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Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
(Attributed)
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There are risks and costs to a programme of action, but they are far less than the long range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
(Attributed)
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The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
(Attributed)
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Our privileges can be no greater than our obligations. The protection of our rights can endure no longer than the performance of our responsibilities.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
(Attributed)
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Liberty without learning is always in peril; learning without liberty is always in vain.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
(Attributed)
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Extreme opposites resemble the other. Each believes that we have only two choices: appeasement or war, suicide or surrender, humiliation or holocaust, to be either Red or dead.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
(Attributed)
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Domestic policy can only defeat us; foreign policy can kill us.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
(Attributed)

Quoted in The Imperial Presidency, ch. 11, by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1973).
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It was involuntary. They sank my boat.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
(Attributed)

When asked how he became a war hero. In A. Schlesinger, Jr., A Thousand Days, 4.9 (1965)
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The true democracy, living and growing and inspiring, puts its faith in the people — faith that the people will not simply elect men who will represent their views ably and faithfully, but will also elect men who will exercise their conscientious judgment — faith that the people will not condemn those whose devotion to principle leads them to unpopular courses, but will reward courage, respect honor, and ultimately recognize right.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Profiles in Courage (1956; 1964 ed.)
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For in a democracy, every citizen, regardless of his interest in politics, “holds office”; every one of us is in a position of responsibility; and, in the final analysis, the kind of government we get depends upon how we fulfill those responsibilities. We, the people, are the boss, and we will get the kind of political leadership, be it good or bad, that we demand and deserve.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Profiles in Courage (1956; 1964 ed.)
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For without belittling the courage with which men have died, we should not forget those acts of courage with which men — such as the subjects of this book — have lived. The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of a final moment; but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy. A man does what he must — in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers, and pressures — and that is the basis of all human morality. In whatever area in life one may meet the challenges of courage, whatever may be the sacrifices he faces if he follows his conscience — the loss of his friends, his fortune, his contentment, even the esteem of his fellow men — each man must decide for himself the course he will follow. The stories of past courage can define that ingredient — they can teach, they can offer hope, they can provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Profiles in Courage (1956; 1964 ed.)
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The voters selected us, in short, because they had confidence in our judgement and our ability to exercise that judgement from a position where we could determine what were their own best interest, as a part of the nation’s interest.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Profiles in Courage (1956)
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The true democracy, living and growing and inspiring, puts its faith in the people — faith that the people will not simply elect men who will represent their views ably and faithfully, but also elect men who will exercise their conscientious judgment — faith that the people will not condemn those whose devotion to principle leads them to unpopular courses, but will reward courage, respect honor, and ultimately recognize right.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Profiles in Courage, ch. 11 (1956; 1964 ed.)
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Today the challenge of political courage looms larger than ever before. … Our political life is becoming so expensive, so mechanized and so dominated by professional politicians and public relations men that the idealist who dreams of independent statesmanship is rudely awakened by the necessities of election and accomplishment.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Profiles in Courage, Introduction (1956)
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If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all — except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Saturday Review (29 Oct 1960), response to questionnaire
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Any system of government will work when everything is going well.  It’s the system that functions in the pinches that survives.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Why England Slept, closing words (1940)
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Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Address to the Latin American diplomatic corps (13 Mar 1962)

On the first anniversary of the Alliance for Progress
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For of those to whom much is given, much is required. And when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each of us — recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state — our success or failure, in whatever office we hold, will be measured by the answers to four questions:

First, were we truly men of courage — with the courage to stand up to one’s enemies — and the courage to stand up, when necessary, to one’s associates — the courage to resist public pressure, as well as private greed?

Secondly, were we truly men of judgment — with perceptive judgment of the future as well as the past — of our mistakes as well as the mistakes of others — with enough wisdom to know what we did not know and enough candor to admit it.

Third, were we truly men of integrity — men who never ran out on either the principles in which we believed or the men who believed in us — men whom neither financial gain nor political ambition could ever divert from the fulfillment of our sacred trust?

Finally, were we truly men of dedication — with an honor mortgaged to no single individual or group, and comprised of no private obligation or aim, but devoted solely to serving the public good and the national interest?

Courage — judgment — integrity — dedication — these are the historic qualities … which, with God’s help … will characterize our Government’s conduct in the four stormy years that lie ahead.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Address to the Massachusetts legislature (9 Jan 1961)
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As President-elect.
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But Goethe tells us in his greatest poem that Faust lost the liberty of his soul when he said to the passing moment: “Stay, thou art so fair.” And our liberty, too, is endangered if we pause for the passing moment, if we rest on our achievements, if we resist the pace of progress. For time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Address, Assembly Hall at Paulskirche, Frankfurt (25 Jun 1963)
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The purpose of foreign policy is not to provide an outlet for our own sentiments of hope or indignation; it is to shape real events in a real world.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Address, Salt Lake City (26 Sep 1963)
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All of us do not have equal talent, but all of us should have an equal opportunity to develop our talents.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Address, San Diego State College (6 Jun 1963)
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Never before has man had such capacity to control his own environment, to end thirst and hunger, to conquer poverty and disease, to banish illiteracy and massive human misery. We have the power to make this world the best generation of mankind in the history of the world — or make it the last.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Address, United Nations (20 Sep 1963)
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We can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Commencement Address, American University (10 Jun 1963)

Full text.
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For the great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived, and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinions without the discomfort of thought.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Commencement address, Yale (11 Jun 1962)
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So, let us not be blind to our differences

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Commencement speech at American University, Wash., D.C. (10 Jun. 1963)
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Once you say you’re going to settle for second, that’s what happens to you in life.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Comment on the Vice Presidency (1960)

Quoted in T. Sorensen, <i>Kennedy</i>, ch. 1 (1965)

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My experience in government is that when things are noncontroverial, beautifully coordinated, and all the rest, it must be that not much is going on.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
In A. Schlesinger, A Thousand Days, 25.3 (1965)
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I suppose if you had to choose just one quality to have that would be it: vitality.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
In A. Schlesinger, Jr., A Thousand Days, 25.2 (1965)
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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.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Inaugural address (20 Jan 1961)
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Portions of this are one of the seven quotations by JFK at his grave site in Arlington National Ceremony.
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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.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Inaugural Address (20 Jan 1961)
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Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us 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 F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Inaugural address (20 Jan 1961)
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A portion of this is one of the seven quotations by JFK at his grave site in Arlington National Ceremony.
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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.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Inaugural Address (20 Jan 1961)
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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.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Inaugural address (20 Jan 1961)
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One of the seven quotations by JFK at his grave site in Arlington National Ceremony.
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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.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Inaugural address (20 Jan 1961)
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A portion of this ("Let the word go forth ... new generation of Americans") is one of the seven quotations by JFK at his grave site in Arlington National Ceremony.
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Whatever one’s religion in his private life may be, for the officeholder, nothing takes precedence over his oath to uphold the Constitution and all its parts — including the First Amendment and the separation of church and state.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Interview, Look (3 Mar 1959)
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War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Letter to a Navy friend (undated)
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It is my firm belief that there should be separation of church and state in the United States — that is, that both church and state should be free to operate, without interference from each other in their respective areas of jurisdiction. We live in a liberal, democratic society which embraces wide varieties of belief and disbelief. There is no doubt in my mind that the pluralism which has developed under our Constitution, providing as it does a framework within which diverse opinions can exist side by side and by their interaction enrich the whole, is the most ideal system yet devised by man. I cannot conceive of a set of circumstances which would lead me to a different conclusion.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Letter to Glenn L. Archer (23 Feb 1959)
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There is a connection, hard to explain logically but easy to feel, between achievement in public life and progress in the arts. The age of Pericles was also the age of Phidias. The age of Lorenzo de Medici was also the age of Leonardo da Vinci. The age of Elizabeth was also the age of Shakespeare. And the New Frontier for which I campaign in public life, can also be a New Frontier for American art.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Letter to Miss Theodate Johnson (13 Sep 1960)
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Published in Musical America (Oct 1960). Response to a letter from Johnson, publisher of the magazine, to Kennedy and Nixon asking their views on music in relation to the federal government and domestic world affairs. Inscribed on the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C.
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The success of this Government, and thus the success of our Nation, depends in the last analysis upon the quality.of our career services. The legislation enacted by the Congress, as well as the decisions made by me and by the department and agency heads, must all be implemented by the career men and women in the Federal service. In foreign affairs, national defense, science and technology, and a host of other fields, they face problems of unprecedented importance and perplexity. We are all dependent on their sense of loyalty and responsibility as well as their competence and energy.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Message on Federal Pay Reform to Congress (20 Feb 1962)
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For one true measure of a nation is its success in fulfilling the promise of a better life for each of its members. Let this be the measure of our nation.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Message to Congress, 87th 2nd Spec. Health (27 Feb 1962)
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Government service must be attractive enough to lure our most talented people. It must be challenging enough to call forth our greatest efforts. It must be interesting enough to retain their services. It must be satisfying enough to inspire single-minded loyalty and dedication. It must be important enough to each individual to call forth reserves of energy and enthusiasm.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Message to the Federal Service, Civil Service Journal (Jan-Mar 1961)
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There is always inequity in life. Some men are killed in a war and some men are wounded, and some men never leave the country, and some men are stationed in the Antarctic and some are stationed in San Francisco. It’s very hard in military or in personal life to assure complete equality. Life is unfair.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
News conference (21 Mar 1962)
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I look forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and beauty … an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Remarks, Amherst College (1963)
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This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Report to the American People on Civil Rights (11 Jun 1963)
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[T]he Supreme Court has made its judgment and a good many people obviously will disagree with it. Others will agree with it. But I think that it is important for us if we are going to maintain our constitutional principle that we support the Supreme Court decisions even when we may not agree with them. In addition, we have in this case a vary easy remedy and that is to pray ourselves. And I would think that it would be a welcome reminder to every American family that we can pray a good deal more at home, we can attend our churches with a good deal more fidelity, and we can make the true meaning of prayer much more important in the lives of all of our children. That power is very much open to us.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech (1962)

On the Supreme Court's ruling in Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962), which forbade government-written school prayers.
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I am certain that after the dust of centuries have passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech (29 Nov 1962)
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And if we are to open employment opportunities in this country for members of all races and creeds, then the Federal Government must set an example …. The President himself must set the key example. I am not going to promise a Cabinet post or any other post to any race or ethnic group. That is racism in reverse at its worst. So I do not promise to consider race or religion in my appointments if I am successful. I promise only that I will not consider them.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech at Wittenberg College, Springfield, Ohio (17 Oct 1960)
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If by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad — if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.”

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Accepting the New York Liberal Party nomination (14 Sep 1960)
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The very word “secrecy” is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, American Newspaper Publishers Association (27 Apr 1961)
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No President should fear public scrutiny of his program. For from that scrutiny comes understanding; and from that understanding comes support or opposition. And both are necessary.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, American Newspaper Publishers Association (27 Apr 1961)
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Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed — and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment — the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution — not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply “give the public what it wants” — but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, American Newspaper Publishers Association (27 Apr 1961)
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It may be different elsewhere. But a democratic society — in it, the highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist is to remain true to himself and to let the chips fall where they may.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Amherst College (26 Oct 1963)
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A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Amherst College (26 Oct 1963)
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Our national strength matters, but the spirit which informs our strength matters just as much.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Amherst College (26 Oct 1963)
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I look forward to an America which commands respect throughout the world not only for its strength but for its civilization as well. And I look forward to a world which will be safe not only for democracy and diversity but also for personal distinction.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Amherst College (26 Oct 1963)
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Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Canadian Parliament (17 May 1961)
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For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew — or a Quaker — or a Unitarian — or a Baptist. It was Virginia’s harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped lead to Jefferson’s statute of religious freedom. Today I may be the victim — but tomorrow it may be you — until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Greater Houston Ministerial Association (12 Sep 1960)
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I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish — where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source — where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials — and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Greater Houston Ministerial Association (12 Sep 1960)
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I do not speak for my church on public matters — and the church does not speak for me.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Greater Houston Ministerial Association (12 Sep 1960)
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Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end — where all men and all churches are treated as equal — where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice — where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind — and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Greater Houston Ministerial Association (12 Sep 1960)
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Whatever issue may come before me as President — on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject — I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise. But if the time should ever come — and I do not concede any conflict to be even remotely possible — when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office; and I hope any conscientious public servant would do the same.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Greater Houston Ministerial Association (12 Sep 1960)
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That is the kind of America in which I believe. And it represents the kind of Presidency in which I believe — a great office that must neither be humbled by making it the instrument of any one religious group nor tarnished by arbitrarily withholding its occupancy from the members of any one religious group. I believe in a President whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Greater Houston Ministerial Association (12 Sep 1960)
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If more politicians knew poetry, and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place in which to live.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Harvard University (14 Jun 1956)
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Let us not despair but act. Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past — let us accept our own responsibility for the future.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Loyola College Alumni Banquet, Baltimore (18 Feb 1958)
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For I can assure you that we love our country, not for what it was, though it has always been great — not for what it is, though of this we are deeply proud — but for what it someday can, and, through the efforts of us all, someday will be.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, National Industrial Conference Board (13 Feb 1961)
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But Goethe tells us in his greatest poem that Faust lost the liberty of his soul when he said to the passing moment: “Stay, thou art so fair.” And our liberty, too, is endangered if we pause for the passing moment, if we rest on our achievements, if we resist the pace of progress. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Paulskirche, Frankfurt, Germany (25 Jun 1963)
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Variant in some locations: "... And those who look only to the past are certain to miss the future."
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I believe in an America where the rights that I have described are enjoyed by all, regardless of their race or their creed or their national origin — where every citizen is free to think and speak as he pleases and write and worship as he pleases — and where every citizen is free to vote as he pleases, without instructions from anyone, his employer, the union leader or his clergyman.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Philadelphia (31 Oct 1960)
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In short, I believe in an America that is on the march — an America respected by all nations, friends and foes alike — an America that is moving, doing, working, trying — a strong America in a world of peace. That peace must be based on world law and world order, on the mutual respect of all nations for the rights and powers of others and on a world economy in which no nation lacks the ability to provide a decent standard of living for all of its people. But we cannot have such a world, and we cannot have such a peace, unless the United States has the vitality and the inspiration and the strength. If we continue to stand still, if we continue to lie at anchor, if we continue to sit on dead center, if we content ourselves with the easy life and the rosy assurances, then the gates will soon be open to a lean and hungry enemy.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Philadelphia (31 Oct 1960)
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Finally, I believe in an America with a government of men devoted solely to the public interests — men of ability and dedication, free from conflict or corruption or other commitment — a responsible government that is efficient and economical, with a balanced budget over the years of the cycle, reducing its debt in prosperous times — a government willing to entrust the people with the facts that they have — not a businessman’s government, with business in the saddle, as the late Secretary McKay described this administration of which he was a member — not a labor government, not a farmer’s government, not a government of one section of the country or another, but a government of, for and by the people.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Philadelphia (31 Oct 1960)
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We are a great and strong country — perhaps the greatest and strongest in the history of the world. But greatness and strength are not our natural right. They are not gifts which are automatically ours forever. It took toil and courage and determination to build this country — and it will take those same qualities if we are to maintain it. For, although a country may stand still, history never stands still. Thus, if we do not soon begin to move forward again, we will inevitably be left behind. And I know that Americans today are tired of standing still — and that we do not intend to be left behind. But effort and courage are not enough without purpose and direction. For, as Socrates told us, “If a man does not know to what port he is sailing, no wind is favorable.”

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Raleigh NC (17 Sep 1960)
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Actually quoting Seneca the Younger.
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We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of preeminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Rice University, Houston (12 Sep 1962)
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We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not only because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Rice University, Houston, Texas (12 Sep 1962)
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Frank O’Connor, the Irish writer, tells in one of his books how, as a boy, he and his friends would make their way across the countryside, and when they came to an orchard wall that seemed too high and too doubtful to try and too difficult to permit their voyage to continue, they took off their hats and tossed them over the wall — and then they had no choice but to follow them. This Nation has tossed its cap over the wall of space, and we have no choice but to follow it.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, San Antonio, TX (21 Nov 1963)
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In a world of danger and trial, peace is our deepest aspiration, and when peace comes we will gladly convert not our swords into plowshares, but our bombs into peaceful reactors, and our planes into space vessels. “Pursue peace,” the Bible tells us, and we shall pursue it with every effort and every energy that we possess. But it is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Seattle (6 Sep 1960)
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But however close we sometimes seem to that dark and final abyss, let no man of peace and freedom despair. For he does not stand alone.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, UN General Assembly (25 Sep 1961)
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Political sovereignty is but a mockery without the means of meeting poverty and illiteracy and disease. Self-determination is but a slogan if the future holds no hope.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, UN General Assembly (25 Sep 1961)
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Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, United Nations (20 Sep 1963)
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Never have the nations of the world had so much to lose, or so much to gain. Together we shall save our planet, or together we shall perish in its flames. Save it we can — and save it we must — and then we shall earn the eternal thanks of mankind and, as peacemakers, the eternal blessings of God.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, United Nations (20 Sep 1963)
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Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind.

Kennedy - war end of mankind - wist_info quote

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, United Nations (23 Sep 1961)

Speech written by Theodore "Ted" Sorensen.
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Conformity is the jailer of freedom, and the enemy of growth.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, United Nations General Assembly (25 Sep 1961)
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Diplomacy and defense are not substitutes for one another. Either alone would fall.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, University of Washington, Seattle (16 Nov 1961)
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And we must face the fact that the United States is neither omnipotent or omniscient — that we are only six percent of the world’s population — that we cannot impose our will upon the other ninety-four percent of mankind — that we cannot right every wrong or reverse each adversity — and that therefore there cannot be an American solution to every world problem.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, University of Washington, Seattle (16 Nov 1961)
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A child miseducated is a child lost.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
State of the Union address (11 Jan 1962)

This quotation is usually attributed to Kennedy's 1963 State of the Union Address, but it does not show up in the formal text or the video recording.

It actually appears to be from his 1962 State of the Union address; while it does appear in the formal text or the audio recording, it does show up in a copy in Vital Speeches and Documents of the Day, Vol. 2 (1961). There are other small textual changes to the speech in that version, which makes me think that it is a press release copy which was delivered in a slightly different form (without the quotation) before Congress; this would explain why the reference became so popular, but is not found in the official version of the text.
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I have pledged myself and my colleagues in the cabinet to a continuous encouragement of initiative, responsibility and energy in serving the public interest. Let every public servant know, whether his post is high or low, that a man’s rank and reputation in this Administration will be determined by the size of the job he does, and not by the size of his staff, his office or his budget. Let it be clear that this Administration recognizes the value of dissent and daring — that we greet healthy controversy as the hallmark of healthy change. Let the public service be a proud and lively career. And let every man and woman who works in any area of our national government, in any branch, at any level, be able to say with pride and with honor in future years: “I served the United States Government in that hour of our nation’s need.”

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
State of the Union address (30 Jan 1961)
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This is a time for courage and a time of challenge. Neither conformity nor complacency will do. Neither fanatics nor the faint-hearted are needed. And our duty as a Party is not to our Party alone, but to the Nation, and, indeed to all mankind. Our duty is not merely the preservation of political power but the preservation of peace and freedom.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Undelivered speech (22 Nov. 1963)
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