On January 20, 1961 in Washington, D.C., President John F. Kennedy delivered his inaugural speech, excerpted below. Much of the speech addressed the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. The most memorable section was the president’s exhortation for American participation in civic life.
...The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe — the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.
We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. 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 of Americans — 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 the world.
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 the success of liberty…
...In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility; I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it, and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man…
For the full text of John Kennedy’s inaugural speech, along with an audio recording, visit the Web site of the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum at http://www.jfklibrary.org
America's first First Lady defined the role of the President's wife and in the process changed the face of the American presidency.
Intrepid journalist Nelly Bly went on a journey around the world breaking the record of Julius Verne's fictional character.
Marcus Garvey, a black nationalist leader from Jamaica, had great successes and failures before being jailed and deported from the US in 1927.
How five abolitionist allies turned a despised fringe movement against chattel slavery into a force that literally changed the nation.
A revealing portrait of one of America's most paradoxical leaders.
President Woodrow Wilson lead America during World War I, created the Federal Reserve, and helped create the League of Nations. Part of the award-winning The Presidents collection.
In August 1942 the murder of a young Mexican American man ignited a firestorm in Los Angeles, ultimately sparking brutal race riots.
Author, soldier, scientist, outdoorsman and caring father, he was the youngest man to become president. Part of the award-winning Presidents collection.