Thursday, January 20, 2011

January 20, 2011

      "Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation--born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage--and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed and to which we are committed today at home and around then world."
     John Kennedy gave that speech fifty years ago today as he took the oath of office as our president.
     He didn't serve even one full term, of course.  He was murdered, like other presidents before him.   He had one embarrassing failure--backing the Cuban exiles who invaded the island trying to overthrow Fidel Castro, who's still there.   And he had one planet-saving success--persuading Nikita Khrushchev to withdraw the Soviet missiles in Cuba which were aimed at the United States--without starting World War III.  I suppose the fairest grade to give his presidency would be "incomplete."
     And yet the legend lives.  I heard that speech in London;  the Brits loved it.   I was still in London when he died--so pointlessly, it seemed.  British cab drivers, hearing your American accent, wouldn't take your money.  A lot of time's gone by;  we've fought a lot of wars.  But the trumpet he sounded still echoes, the dream still lives.
     "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 success of liberty."
     Still true, I hope. 

No comments: