Becoming JFK: A Profile in Communication

By Vito N. Silvestri | Go to book overview
Save to active project

The Inaugural Address

Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

John F. Kennedy

Decades after its original presentation, John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address continues to resonate with other generations, and it is ranked among the world's greatest orations. Its contribution to American public discourse is comparable to the speeches of Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin Roosevelt.

Kennedy's Inaugural, the first by a president born in the twentieth century, was also the first to discuss the threat of nuclear annihilation, and the first since Franklin Roosevelt's First and Second Inaugurals, to become a model of excellence for future ones. Published in Petersen Treasury of the World's Great Speeches (a book Kennedy read while recuperating from back operations in 1954), and in Boutwell Great Speeches from Pericles to Kennedy, the Kennedy Inaugural Address has averaged publication in twenty anthologies yearly and endures as one of the most quotable of inaugural addresses. One quotation about the defense of freedom is inscribed in marble at Runymede, England. 1

Standing hatless and coatless in freezing twenty-three-degree weather, Kennedy reexamined international developments in terms of American ideology and nuclear politics, making carefully crafted thematic statements that would lead the way to nuclear containment and the reduction of world tensions.

The theme of freedom informed Kennedy's Inaugural Address. It was like a shining wash of light that illuminated all the choices Kennedy described. And with the clarity of his words, he changed the national landscape of political thought, enfranchising young Americans who had been raised in a climate of nuclear tension, but who were already seeking alternatives.

Kennedy drew attention to the Inauguration as an occasion for an orderly transfer of power, to dramatize this normative occurrence every


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Becoming JFK: A Profile in Communication
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 323

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?