John F. Kennedy Quote Page



"We're eyeball to eyeball,and I think the other fellow just blinked." Secretary of State Rusk Cuban Missle Crisis

Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me. The carriage held but just ourselves, And immortality." --Emily Dickinson

Within the first few months, I discovered that being president is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or be swallowed. Harry S. Truman

100 Days "All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, not in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin," Afraid "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." American "Every American ought to have the right to be treated; as he would like to be treated, as one would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated." 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. JFK 10/26/63 Amherst College Arts If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. JFK, 10/26/63 I look forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and beauty. JFK 10/26/63 We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth. JFK 10/26/63 Balanced Budget "A tax cut means higher family income and higher business profits and a balanced federal budget....As the national income grows, the federal government will ultimately end up with more revenues. Prosperity is the real way to balance our budget. By lowering tax rates, by increasing jobs and income, we can expand tax revenues and finally bring our budget into balance." John F. Kennedy Source: September 18, 1963 Berlin The freedom of the city is not negotiable. We cannot negotiate with those who say, 'What's mine is mine and what's yours is negotiable.' John F. Kennedy, 1961 Change 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 Source:Speech, June 25, 1963 Conformity "Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth." -John F. Kennedy (1917-63) Constitution The Constitution makes us not rivals for power but partners for progress. John F. Kennedy, State of Union, 1962 Courage Any dangerous spot is tenable if brave men will make it so. 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 oun soul. JFK, Profiles in Courage, 1956 Without belittling the courage with which men have died, we should not forget those acts of courage with which men...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. JFK, Profiles in Courage, 1956 Crisis "When written in Chinese, the word 'crisis' is composed of two characters--one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity." Diplomacy and defense are not substitutes for one another. Either alone will fail. Campaign Speech 9/6/60 Great crises produce great men, and great deeds of courage. JFK The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining. JFK Courage Any dangerous spot is tenable if brave men will make it so. 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 oun soul. JFK, Profiles in Courage, 1956 Without belittling the courage with which men have died, we should not forget those acts of courage with which men...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. JFK, Profiles in Courage, 1956 Cuba It shall be the policy of this Nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union. Finally, I want to say a few words to the captive people of Cuba, to whom this speech is being directly carried by special radio facilities. I speak to you as a friend, as one who knows of your deep attachment to your fatherland, as one who shares your aspirations for liberty and justice for all. And I have watched and the American people have watched with deep sorrow how your nationalist revolution was betrayed-and how your fatherland fell under foreign domination. Now your leaders are no longer Cuban leaders inspired by Cuban ideals. They are puppets and agents of an international conspiracy which has turned Cuba against your friends and neighbors in the Americas-and turned it into the first Latin American country to become a target for nuclear war—the first Latin American country to have these weapons on its soil My fellow citizens: let no one doubt that this is a difficult and dangerous effort on which we have set out. No one can foresee precisely what course it will take or what costs or casualties will be incurred. Many months of sacrifice and self-discipline lie ahead—months in which both our patience and our will will be tested—months in which many threats and denunciations will keep us aware of our dangers. But the greatest danger of all would be to do nothing The path we have chosen for the present is full of hazards, as all paths are—but it is the one most consistent with our character and courage as a nation and our commitments around the world. The cost of freedom is always high-but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender or submission. Our goal is not the victory of might, but the vindication of right-not peace at the expense of freedom, but both peace and freedom, here in this hemisphere, and, we hope, around the world. God willing, that goal will be achieved. July 4, 1962 Democracy Democracy is never a final achievement. It is a call to untiring effort, to continual sacrifice. Democratic Party 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, speech planed for Dallas Texas, 11-22-1960 Democrats Vs. Republicans We have all made mistakes. But Dante tells us that divine justice weighs the sins of the cold-blooded and the sins of the warm-hearted on different scales. Better the occasional faults of a party living in the spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a party frozen in the ice of its own indifference. John F. Kennedy, 1960 Source:Garrison Keillor, Homegrown Democrat, pp69 Economy Economic growth without social progress lets the great majority of the people remain in poverty, while a privleged few reap the benefits of rising abundance. Economic policy can result from governmental inaction as well as governmental action. Environment The Supreme Reality of Our Time is...the Vulnerability of our Planet" John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), speech, June 28, 1963 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. A child miseducated is a child lost. JFK State of the Union, 1963 the mainspring of our economic and social progress...It is the hightest expression of achievement in our society, ennobling and enriching human life. It might be said now that I have the best of both worlds: a Harvard education and a Yale degree. JFK accepting a Yale degree, 6/12/63 Enemies Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names Executives In Steel Industry In this serious hour in our Nation's history, when we are confronted with grave crises in Berlin and Southeast Asia, when we are devoting our energies to economic recovery and stability, when we are asking reservists to leave their homes and families for months on end and servicemen to risk their lives-- and four were killed in the last 2 days in Viet-Nam and asking union members to hold down their wage requests at a time when restraint and sacrifice are being asked of every citizen, the American people will find it hard, as I do, to accept a situation in which a tiny handful of steel executives whose pursuit of private power and profit exceeds their sense of public responsibility can show such utter contempt for the interests of 185 million Americans. Environment It is our task in our time and in our generation to hand down undiminished to those who come after us, as was handed down to us by those who went before, the natural wealth and beauty which is ours. John F. Kennedy, March 1961 Never before has man had such capacity to control his own environment, to end thrist and hunger, to conguer poverty and disease, to banish illiteracy and massive human misery. We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world--or to make it the last. John F. Kennedy, UN address, 9-20-1963 Equality 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 6-11-1963 Farmer The American farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything he buys at retail, sells everything he sells at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways. John F. Kennedy, 9-22-1960 Forgiveness Forgive, but never forget. Future "I look forward to a great future for America, a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose. . . . And I look forward to an America which commands respect throughout the world not only for its strength but for its civilization as well." -- John F. Kennedy honoring Robert Frost, Oct. 26, 1963 "The wave of the future is not the conquest of the world by a single dogmatic creed but the liberation of the diverse energies of free nations and free men." We have come too far, we have sacrificed too much, to disdain the furture now. John F. Kennedy Global Affairs We no longer live in a world where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nation's security to constitute maximum peril. John F. Kennedy, 10-22-1962 Hero [Mr. President, how did you become a war hero?] It was absolutely involuntary. They sank my boat. John F. Kennedy Source:The Kennedy Wit Honesty and Trust For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie--deliberate, contrived and dishonest--but the myth--persistent, persuasive--of our forebears. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. John F. Kennedy, Yale, 6-11-1962 I would rather be accused of breaking precedents than breaking promises. John F. Kennedy Idealism In each of us, there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone. John F. Kennedy I look forward to a great future for America--a future in which our country will match its military strenght with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose. John F. Kennedy, 10-26-1963 There will always be dissident voices heard in the land, expressing opposition without alternatives, finding fault but never favor, perceiving gloom on every side and seeking influence without responsibility. John F. Kennedy, Speech for Dallas Texas, 11-22-1963 nut never delivered. A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on. Ideas have endurance without death. John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." The world is a very different now...and yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe--the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God. John F. Kennedy Let us never negotiate out of fear but let us never fear to negotiate. John F. Kennedy, 1-20-1961 "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." JFK Inaugural address, January 20, 1961. Only when our arms are sufficient, without doubt, can we be certain, without doubt, that they will never be employed. John F. Kennedy 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 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. John F. Kennedy. Individualism Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth. John F. Kennedy, Speech to The UN. 1961 Judgement We shall be judged more by what we do at home than what we preach abroad. John F. Kennedy, State of the Union, 1963 Knowledge "In a time of turbulence and change, it is more true today than ever that knowledge is power." Laughter "There are three things in life which are real: God, human folly and laughter. Since the first two are beyond our comprehension, we must do what we can with the third." Law I don't see what's wrong with giving Bobby a little experience before he starts to practice law. John F. Kennedy, appointing his brother Bobby US attorney general Only a respect for the law makes it possible for free men to dwell together in peace and progress.... Law is the adhesive force in the cement of society, creating order out of chaos and coherence in place of anarchy. John F. Kennedy, 5-18-1963 Liberty and Learning "Liberty without learning is always in peril and learning without liberty is always in vain." Morality and Spirit A man does what he must - in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers - and this is the basis of all human morality. Mothers and Sons and Being President "Mothers all want their sons to grow up to be president but they don't want them to become politicians in the process." US President John F. Kennedy Navy "I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: 'I served in the United States Navy." President John F. Kennedy Source:1 August 1963, in Bancroft Hall at the U. S. Naval Academy. New Frontier We stand today on the edge of a new frontier. 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 our pride, not our security--it holds the promise of more sacrifice instead of more security. John F. Kennedy, Acceptance speech, 7-15-1960 New Generation "It is time for a new generation of leadership, to cope with new problems and new opportunities. For there is a new world to be run." Nixon "Do you know the responsibility I carry? I'm the only person between Nixon and the White House." -John F. Kennedy Mr. Nixon, in the last seven days, has called me an economic ignoramus, a Pied Piper, and all the rest. I've just confined myself to calling him a Republician, but he says that is getting low. John F. Kennedy, 11-5-1960 The Republican nominee-to-be, of course, is also a young man. But his approach is as old as McKinley. His party is the party of the past. His speeches are generalities from Poor Richard's Almanac. Their platform, made up of left-over Democratic planks, has the courage of our old convictions. Their pledge is a pledge to the status quo and today there can be no status quo. -John F. Kennedy Patriotism Let our patriotism be reflected in the creation of confidence in one another, rather than in crusades of suspicion. Let us prove we think our country great, by striving to make it greater. John F. Kennedy, 11-18-1961 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, 10-27-1963 Peace But peace does not rest in the charters and covenants alone. It lies in the hearts and minds of all people. And if it is cast out there, then no act, no pact, no treaty, no organization can hope to preserve it without the support and whole hearted commitment of all people. So let us not rest all our hopes on parchment and on paper, let us strive to build peace, a desire for peace, a willingness to work for peace in the hearts and minds of all of our people. I believe that we can. I believe the problems of human destiny are not beyond the reach of human beings. Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures." So let us perserver. Peace need not be impracticable--and war need not be inevitable. By defining our goal more clearly, by making it seem more manageable and less remote, we can help all peoples to see it, to draw hope from it, and to move irresistibly towards it. John F. Kennedy 1963 Peace and freedom walk together. In too many of our cities today, the peace is not secure because freedom is incomplete. John F. Kennedy, 6-10-1963 People The first requirement of efficiency and economy... is highly competent personel. John F. Kennedy Source:Management Mag, 1987 Poetry When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. "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." --Sen. John F. Kennedy, Address at Harvard University, 1956 Politics In politics, there are no friends, only allies. John F. Kennedy It would be premature to ask your support in the next election and it would be inaccurate to thank you for it in the past. John F. Kennedy, speech to the National Industrial Conference Board, Washington, DC, 2-13-1961 Mothers may still want their sons to grow up to be President, but according to a famous Gallup poll of some years ago, some 73 percent do not want them to become politicans in the process. John F. Kennedy, Profiles in Courage. My brother Bob doesn't want to be in government--he promised Dad he'd go straight. John F. Kennedy Problems Our problems are man-made, therefore they may be solved by man. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Poverty "Acting on our own, by ourselves, we cannot establish justice throughout the world, but joined with other free nations, we can ... assist the developing nations to throw off the yoke of poverty." If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. John F. Kennedy 1-20-1963 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, Speech to UN, 9-25-1961 There is inherited wealth in this country and also inherited poverty. John F. Kennedy, 10-26-1963 A strong America depends on its cities--America's glory and sometmes America's shame. John F. Kennedy, State Of Union, 1962 We will neglect our cities to our peril, for in neglecting them we neglect the nation. John F. Kennedy, 1-30-1962 Presidential Seal The American eagle on the Presidential seal holds in his talons both the olive branch of peace and the arrows of military might. On the ceiling in the Presidential office, constructed many years ago, that eagle is facing the arrows of the war on its left. But on the new carpet on the floor, reflecting a change initiated by President Roosevelt and implemented by President Truman immediately after the war, that eagle is now facing the olive branch of peace. And it is in that spirit, the spirit of both preparedness and peace, that this Nation today is stronger than ever before. John F. Kennedy, 10-19-1963 Rehabilitation of Selective Service Rejectees "A young man who does not have what it takes to perform military service is not likely to have what it takes to make a living. Today's military rejects include tomorrow's hard-core unemployed." John F. Kennedy Source:Statement by the President on the Need for Training or Rehabilitation of Selective Service Rejectees. September 30th, 1963 Religious Affiliation 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. Restraint Our restraint is not inexhaustible. John F. Kennedy Source:April 20, 1961 Revolutions Those who make peaceful revolutions impossible will make violent revolutions inevitable. Richness The quality of American life must keep pace with the quantity of American goods. This country cannot afford to be materially rich and spiritually poor. SEA "I really don't know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it's because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it's because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, our sweat, and in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it, we are going back from whence we came." --Pres. John F. Kennedy, Australian Ambassador's Dinner for the America's Cup Crews, September 14, 1962, Newport, R.I. Senior Citizens This increase in the life span and the number of our senior citizens presents this Nation with increased opportunities: the opportunity to draw upon their skill and sagacity--and the opportunity to provide the respect and recognition they have earned. It is not enough for a great nation merely to have added new years to life-- our objective must also be to add new life to those years. JFK, Special Message to Congress 1963. SPACE Address at Rice University on the Nation's Space Effort September 12, 1962 HEAR THE ENTIRE SPEECH 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 all 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 pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say the we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours. There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not 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. Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, "Because it is there." Well, space is there, and we're going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God's blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked. "This nation has tossed its cap over the wall of space, and we have no choice but to follow it." --Pres. John F. Kennedy, Remarks at the dedication of the Aerospace Medical Health, Center, San Antonio, Texas, November 21, 1963 Surprise When we got into office, the first thing that surprised me most was to find that things were just as bad as we'd been saying they were. -- John F. Kennedy, speech in Washington, 1961 This Nation and Its People "I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics but for our contributions to the human spirit." President John F. Kennedy Times Unless there is the most intimate association between those who look to the far horizons and those who deal with our daily problems, then...we shall not pass through these stormy times with sucess. John F. Kennedy. History is a relentless master. It has no present, only the past rushing toward the future. To try to hold fast is to be swept aside. John F. Kennedy Tolerance "Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others." John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) 35th US President 1960 US Government It has recently been suggested that whether I serve one or two terms in the Presidency, I will find myself at the end of that period at what might be called the awkward age, too old to begin a new career and too young to write my memoirs. John F. Kennedy, 2-12-1961 I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House--with the possible exception of when Thomas Jerrerson dined alone. John F. Kennedy, 4-29-1962 Senators who go down in defeat in vain defense of a single principle will not be on hand to fight for that or another principle in the future. John F. Kennedy The United States is a peaceful nation. And where our strengh and determination are clear, our words need merely to convey conviction, not belligerence. If we are strong, our strengh will speak for itself. If we are weak, words will be of no help. John F. Kennedy Votes I have just received the following telegram from my generous daddy. It says, 'Dear Jack: Don't buy a single vote more than necessary. I'll be damned if I'm going to pay for a landslide.' John F. Kennedy, Gridiron Dinner, Washington, DC, 1958 WAR Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. Kennedy's Cabinet Secretary of State Dean Rusk 1961-63 Secretary of the Treasury C. Douglas Dillon 1961-63 Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara 1961-63 Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy 1961-63 Postmaster General J. Edward Day 1961-63 John A. Gronouski Jr. 1963 Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall 1961-63 Secretary of Agriculture Orville L. Freeman 1961-63 Secretary of Commerce Luther H. Hodges 1961-63 Secretary of Labor Arthur J. Goldberg 1961-62 W. Willard Wirtz 1962-63 Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Abraham A. Ribicoff 1961-62 Anthony J. Celebrezze 1962-63 Great John F. Kennedy Speeches Online


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