President John F. Kennedy And His Inaugural Address

1155 words - 5 pages

January 20, 1961 will forever be a day that marks a special moment in time in which President John Fitzgerald Kennedy delivered one of the most memorable speeches in American History. His Inaugural address is one in which many famous quotes come from and one that is emulated in present speeches. In order to understand the importance of this inoculation one must understand the atmosphere of our nation at that time and what President Kennedy was trying to get across to his constituents. In this essay I will give you background information pertaining to the state our union in 1961; discuss the tone of the speech; and finally examine the impact that President Kennedy’s term played on our nation.
The year of 1961 saw many highs for Americans such as launching its first man into space. But when President Kennedy took over office from President Dwight Eisenhower our nation was at the brink of a nuclear catastrophe. The United States and the Soviet Union were two superpowers battling across the globe for geopolitical advantage and the notion of nuclear war was a sobering reality (Updegrove 186). Many Americans began preparing for the worst by building backyard fallout shelters and stocking up on non-perishable foods. And, if this wasn’t big enough, we were also dealing with issues on our own soil regarding equality among American citizens. Brown vs. the Board of Education sparked many concerns regarding segregation and freedom of rights promised to African-Americans by their ancestors. President Kennedy shortly began to find out even more intelligence after being elected that could affect his presidency; such as communism in South Vietnam, Cambodia and Burma. With so much opposition facing his term, President Kennedy understood the need to give a speech that would not only motivate but challenge the youth to improve their futures.
The tone of President John F. Kennedy’s speech was one of inspiration and hope. He wanted to win the confidence of his citizens by delivering a short speech filled with noble ideals (Matheson 11). President Kennedy starts his inaugural address by exclaiming his understanding that America was very different from that of the nation’s predecessors. The President also wanted to send out a warning to all other nations by letting them know that with him as commander-in-chief, America would “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend or oppose any foe in order to assure the survival and success of liberty”(Kennedy 609). Basically he was stating that he would not think twice about using all possible forces in order to preserve peace and prosperity for the United States. He further goes on to offer his support to developing countries by pledging to help them help themselves but with a special stipulation. He warned these nations to not lean on America’s success but to form their own freedom when he stated, “remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought to find power by riding on the tiger’s back...

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