The Times West Virginian

Breaking News

Opinion

November 22, 2013

Vision shown during Kennedy’s New Frontier lasts through generations

“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.”

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives

    A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
    Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
    The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.

    April 17, 2014

  • State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary

    Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
    For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
    Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.

    April 16, 2014

  • Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better

    When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
    So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.

    April 13, 2014

  • COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable

    Instant.
    That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
    But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
    Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!

    April 13, 2014

  • Decision to be an organ donor can save lives

    Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
    So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.

    April 11, 2014

  • Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community

    Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
    Marion County is full of volunteers.
    They read to our youth.
    They assist nonprofit agencies.
    They serve on boards and committees.
    And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.

    April 10, 2014

  • Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law

    West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.

    April 9, 2014

  • Strong Fairmont General Hospital badly needed to serve our region

    Mere minutes often matter when it comes to emergency health care.
    That’s why we need a strong Fairmont General Hospital.
    When patients need the services of health-care professionals, having family and friends close at hand is often essential, and their presence may even lead to a better outcome.

    April 6, 2014

  • COLUMN: Fairmont General Hospital vital part of community

    There’s nothing better than holding a newborn baby. It gives you a little feeling that not only is everything right in the world, but this perfect little human represents hope of a future where things will be better than they are today.
    I had that blessed opportunity to hold that hopeful future in my arms last week when I visited my dear friend Jen and her newborn son Tristan at Fairmont General Hospital.

    April 6, 2014

  • Putting a cost on safety issue has been culprit in 13 traffic deaths

    Would you believe that an item costing just 57 cents — less than the price of a can of pop — is being cited as the culprit in 13 traffic deaths?
    A simple 57-cent item.
    That’s how much fixing the fatal ignition switches that General Motors installed in new automobiles would have cost, and 13 lives would probably have been saved.

    April 4, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads