Spirit of John F. Kennedy’s presidency is being washed away

Jady Wei

John F. Kennedy, the 35th U.S. president, was assassinated fifty years ago. He conveyed a strong message of the individual’s obligation to give to society during his presidency. Source: Aaron Shikler

John F. Kennedy’s assassination marked its 50th anniversary on Nov 22, 2013. Around the nation, Americans paid their respect for Kennedy by recollecting the events of his thousand-day presidency, positive and negative alike. Most importantly, Kennedy’s famous words are called back into memory, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Kennedy’s presidency was a dark era in American history – a time when the Cold War reached its height, a time when the imminent nuclear crises was on the brink of explosion, a time when violence and racism were ubiquitous. His actions inspired the nation to remain hopeful of the future — the fact that he had placated the Soviets in the Cuban Missile Crisis, founded the Peace Corps, started the initiative to put a man on the moon, and sponsored a movement that culminated in the landmark Civil Rights legislation. But more importantly, his words helped America persevere through hindrances and despair, remaining strong in the nation’s most arduous times.

In a modern society much different than that 50 years ago, Kennedy’s spirit of inspiration is gradually fading away. Too many people are not following the true meaning of his words.

[quote_right]”Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” ~ John F. Kennedy[/quote_right]

At school, many students readily voice their complaints. They often talk about how difficult a teacher is, how they’re struggling in a class or how school is draining their time and energies, taking away their social lives. But they don’t do much about it. They are absorbed by self-interests, thinking about their own sufferings and hardships, and not about what they can do for the community. Complaints won’t get people anywhere. Students should view their complaints in a different way. Following what Kennedy had once said, they should consider their obligations to help the community and not what their community must do for them. Being caught up in the negative aspects of life is only taking away a more meaningful thing they could be doing instead.

Kennedy’s presidency and inauguration were events of the past, but students in the modern society should pay tribute to his legacy and embody the true meaning of his words. As people are now lingering on the topic of Kennedy’s presidency, they should take a moment to think about the true implications of the idea Kennedy had tried to instil on the nation long ago.

It’s time to reflect on this message: “ask what you can do for your community.”