John F. Kennedy inaugural address: On the question of civility (#jfkquotes)
"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."
Fifty years ago, John F. Kennedy took the podium outside the Capitol and gave his first speech as the president of the United States. The Post's Op-Ed columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. writes, "Tethered to its time and place, it still challenges with its ambition to harness realism to idealism, patriotism to service, national interest to universal aspiration." In the wake of all the conversation surrounding civility and political rhetoric following the tragedy in Tucson, one section of the speech jumped out at me today:
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. Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.
At the time, Kennedy was discussing how he hoped to work with the Soviet Union, but the words could fit today's discussion just as well as they worked 50 years ago.
TweetWhat's your favorite line from John F. Kennedy? Use #jfkquotes or leave it in the comments.
And check out the full gallery of inaugural pictures -- including the bison-riding cowboy and Jackie Kennedy's ball gown -- at Life.com.
For the full speech:
Google also gave a shout-out to the 35th president in today's doodle:
Here are a few readers favorite quotes:
"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." #jfkquotes
| January 20, 2011; 8:13 AM ET
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