That we may be worthy

 

walter-cronkite-kate-JFK-ftr

Excerpts from a speech that never was…

JFK’s Trade Mart Speech, to be delivered the day he was assassinated, November 22, 1963.

 

This link between leadership and learning is not only essential at the community level. It is even more indispensable in world affairs. Ignorance and misinformation can handicap the progress of a city or a company, but they can, if allowed to prevail in foreign policy, handicap this country’s security. In a world of complex and continuing problems, in a world full of frustrations and irritations, America’s leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason — or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality and the plausible with the possible will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions to every world problem.

There will always be dissident voices heard in the land, expressing opposition without alternative, finding fault but never favor, perceiving gloom on every side and seeking influence without responsibility. Those voices are inevitable.

But today other voices are heard in the land — voices preaching doctrines wholly unrelated to reality, wholly unsuited to the sixties, doctrines which apparently assume that words will suffice without weapons, that vituperation is as good as victory and that peace is a sign of weakness. At a time when the national debt is steadily being reduced in terms of its burden on our economy, they see that debt as the single greatest threat to our security. At a time when we are steadily reducing the number of Federal employees serving every thousand citizens, they fear those supposed hordes of civil servants far more than the actual hordes of opposing armies.

We cannot expect that everyone, to use the phrase of a decade ago, will “talk sense to the American people.” But we can hope that fewer people will listen to nonsense. And the notion that this Nation is headed for defeat through deficit, or that strength is but a matter of slogans, is nothing but just plain nonsense.

Finally, it should be clear by now that a nation can be no stronger abroad than she is at home. Only an America which practices what it preaches about equal rights and social justice will be respected by those whose choice affects our future. Only an America which has fully educated its citizens is fully capable of tackling the complex problems and perceiving the hidden dangers of the world in which we live.

The strength — Jacques d’Nalgar: this “strength” is a now-ironic reference from the previous paragraph, to “the military, the scientific, and the economic strength to do whatever must be done for the preservation and promotion of freedom” — will never be used in pursuit of aggressive ambitions — it will always be used in pursuit of peace. It will never be used to promote provocations — it will always be used to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes.

We, in this country, in this generation, are — by destiny rather than by choice — the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of “peace on earth, good will toward men.” That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: “except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain.”

 

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/primary-resources/jfk-trademart/ or http://to.pbs.org/HWjMqS

Photograph of Walter Cronkite as he removes his glasses while announcing the death of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 (Getty Images).  http://www.parade.com/224921/parade/kate-cronkite-reflects-on-watching-her-dad-walter-cronkite-announce-jfks-assassination/

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1 comment

  1. Selections from Lady Bird’s Diary on the assassination, November 22, 1963…

    It all began so beautifully.

    I cast one last look over my shoulder and saw in the President’s car a bundle of pink, just like a drift of blossoms, lying in the back seat. It was Mrs. Kennedy lying over the President’s body.

    I looked at her. Mrs. Kennedy’s dress was stained with blood. One leg was almost entirely covered with it and her right glove was caked, it was caked with blood – her husband’s blood. Somehow that was the one of the most poignant sights – that immaculate woman, exquisitely dressed, and caked in blood.

    I asked her if I couldn’t get someone in to help her change and she said, “Oh, no. Perhaps later I’ll ask Mary Gallagher but not right now.” And then with almost an element of fierceness – if a person that gentle, that dignified, can be said to have such a quality – she said, “I want them to see what they have done to Jack.”

    From http://www.pbs.org/ladybird/epicenter/epicenter_doc_diary.html

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