“Ask not what your country can do for you ...”
There are few phrases in the history of America that are as iconic as the one spoken by the late John F. Kennedy during his Inaugural Address on the steps of the Capitol on Jan. 20, 1961.
“... Ask what you can do for your country.”
It had been a tough campaign road for the Massachusetts senator. While the Kennedy family was well known and established in New England, it wasn’t clear whether JFK would have broad voter appeal. He set to change the pundits’ minds, especially in West Virginia. The candidate visited a coal mine, knocked on doors, had one-on-one conversations with the people of the Mountain State — real conversations about needs and problems they faced in their day-to-day life.
Despite all the obstacles in his way the day he stepped into West Virginia, he convinced the voters who were very conservative and went to their Protestant churches each Sunday that a rich Roman Catholic liberal was the man who needed to lead this nation. Why? Because he didn’t just ask for a vote, he asked what he could do to help West Virginians.
And it was the Mountain State who helped propel him to victory in the Democratic primary in May 1960. It was the voters of West Virginia who proved that Kennedy had broad voter appeal. It was the hardworking coal miners and steelworkers and factory employees who were among the first to believe in Kennedy’s New Frontier.
Weeks later, he would deliver that next iconic speech at the Democratic Convention.
“We stand today on the edge of a New Frontier — the frontier of 1960s, the frontier of unknown opportunities and perils, the frontier of unfilled hopes and unfilled dreams. ... Beyond that frontier are uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered problems of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus.”
Today marks the 50th anniversary of a very dark day in America’s history, a day when hate and rage took the life of a president who in three short years had more of an impact on his party and his nation than those before him. He challenged the country to end systematic racism through integration. He challenged American scientists to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. He challenged lawmakers to aid the poor and the unemployed. He challenged the federal government to mandate companies pay fair wages to workers. He asked that the nation support higher education.
“All this will not be finished in the first 100 days,” he said on that January day of his inauguration. “Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.”
No one could have known that his own life would end less than three years later, that right around the 1,000-day mark his life would be cut short by an assassin’s bullet.
But we know that his vision has lasted even to this day. We know that he inspired a generation to serve in the 1960s, and today still inspires the youngest of our citizens through all he accomplished during his too-brief tenure as president.
At Arlington Cemetery, the Eternal Flame burns where Kennedy’s body is entombed. It is a physical representation of the torch that Kennedy asked us all to carry the day he took office.
“In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course.
“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.
“Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking his blessing and his help, but knowing that here on Earth God’s work must truly be our own.”
“Ask not what your country can do for you ...”
‘Pothole blitz’ badly needed service coming in West Virginia
Hopefully, the heavy snow and extremely cold weather of January, February and early March are in the past.
Remnants of the harsh winter, though, remain. They’re faced each day by the state’s drivers.
Potholes have West Virginia’s roads in their worst condition in years, and the damaging freeze-thaw cycle is not over.
‘The issues are complicated’ with e-cigarettes
E-cigarettes have been around for about seven years.
But you’d be shocked at how long the idea for the the tobacco-less product has been around.
“A primitive, battery-operated ‘smokeless non-tobacco cigarette’ was patented as early as 1963 and described in Popular Mechanics in 1965,” Megan McArdle wrote for Business Week last monty.
Coal industry can’t afford to give this administration and EPA more ammunition
Coal already has a bad name in Washington, D.C.
The whole industry got another black eye this week when Alpha Natural Resources Inc., one of the country’s largest coal producers, agreed to pay a $27.5 million fine and invest $200 million to reduce illegal water pollution in five states, including West Virginia.
Being observant, reporting suspicions can make difference for hurting children
If a child is hurting, we wouldn’t hesitate to help.
Or would we?
In a five-year span, 22,830 children were victims of some type of neglect or abuse in West Virginia. That’s an overwhelming number to think about.
Gee makes major impact and earns another term as WVU president
Let’s imagine that a graduate from West Virginia University in the early 1980s, when E. Gordon Gee was president, came back to get an extra degree now and couldn’t believe that E. Gordon Gee is “still” the president of WVU.
Effort to encourage purchase of goods produced in U.S. deserves support
The concept of encouraging the purchase of American-made products is certainly not new.
On the federal level, the Buy American Act was passed in 1933 by Congress and signed by President Herbert Hoover. It required the United States government to prefer U.S.-made products in its purchases.
‘Stop Meth, Not Meds’ backed by readers
In West Virginia, there is something referred to as “stop-sale technology” that prevents a person from going to more than one pharmacy to purchase over-the-counter medication that contains the active ingredient pseudoephedrine, a nasal decongestant.
It’s not an issue of stuffy noses that lawmakers were worried about when they created the system.
Even small steps play part in critical mission to reduce childhood obesity
Just two years ago, more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese, meaning they had excess body weight based on their height.
It’s a troubling statistic, and one that health officials have worked diligently to reverse.
Cutting-edge heart procedure at Mon General is saving lives
“I used to think I wouldn’t live to be 50. Well, I made it to 50 and then some,” Pearl Walls said.
Walls is likely alive today and able to tell her story to the Times West Virginian because of a cutting-edge procedure performed at Monongalia General Hospital — a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), which was only approved for use by the FDA in 2011.
Celebrate Dr. Seuss’ many works, magic words
You know his words.
You know them well.
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- ‘Pothole blitz’ badly needed service coming in West Virginia