Friday, November 22, 2013

A Retrospective: John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address

John F. Kennedy‘s Inaugural Address as president of the United States took place on January 20th, 1961, which he gave immediately after taking the presidential oath of office from Chief Justice Earl Warren. (The second part of the speech can be viewed here.)

Here are some particulars of the speech, Wikipedia informs us:
Kennedy took the oath of office at at 12:51 (ET) Friday, 20 January 1961,[1][6] and gave the speech afterwards.[2]. The address is 1364 words and took 13 minutes and 42 seconds to deliver, from the first word to the last word, not including applause at the end, making it the fourth-shortest inaugural address ever delivered. The speech was also the first inaugural address delivered to a televised audience in color.[7] It is widely considered to be among the best presidential inauguration speeches in American history.[8]
With good reason; it was a hopeful speech from a young, charismatic president who understood the then-new medium of TV. No one knows what  President Kennedy would have accomplished had he not been assassinated 50 years ago, on Friday November 22, 1963, and completed his full term. I was only six when that tragic event took place, and yet understood from looking at the faces of my parents and other adults that this was indeed a horrible nation-altering event. That weekend. my parents and I were glued in front of our black-and-white TV watching preparations for the state funeral, which took place on Monday the 25th, which we also watched. Our household was saddened by the loss of a president and what he represented.

JFK might have been elected for another four years, and changed the course of history. We can only speculate, which is within the realm of political pundits and commentators. Those who liked him said he was great; and those who did not said he was horrible. This was expected then, and even more so today in an America that is highly polarized and cynical.

JFK's inaugural speech represents everything good and positive about America and its history and its people. That is why, as a Canadian who has always respected and appreciated the U.S., I look at it as a hopeful and great speech. Some will agree with me; others will not. Such is the beauty of democracy and what made America the great nation it became. Perhaps one day soon, I will recognize that America.

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