Friday, January 20, 1961: JFK inauguration

John Fitzgerald Kennedy takes office as the 35th president of the United States. His inaugural speech is best remembered for its call to service:

"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."

It was not the first time Kennedy had spoken of the commitment necessary of government and citizens alike. It echoed his words when he accepted the Democratic nomination for president (see entry of July 15, 1960):

"Woodrow Wilson's New Freedom promised our nation a new political and economic framework. Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal promised security and succor to those in need. But the New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises. It is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer to the American people, but what I intend to ask of them. It appeals to their pride -- it appeals to our pride, not our security. It holds out the promise of more sacrifice instead of more security."

Another often-quoted passage: "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."

* 68 minutes, from NBC: @
* 37 minutes, from c-spanvideo.org; speech begins at the 15-minute mark: @
* 15 minutes, from John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum): @

Audio and transcript (from americanrhetoric.com): @

* Page from hand-written draft of speech, including "ask not" passage (from archives.gov): @
* Various drafts (including hand-written) and press copies of speech (from JFK Library): @
* Front page of Los Angeles Mirror: @
* Front page of Cleveland Plain Dealer: @
* Photo with a "viewer," allowing a closer look at all parts of the picture (from jfklibrary.org): @
* Photos from life.com: @
* Photos from Los Angeles Times: @

* "Ask Not: The Inauguration of John F. Kennedy and the Speech That Changed America" (by Thurston Clarke): @
* "Sounding the Trumpet: The Making of John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address" (by Richard J. Tofel): @
* "Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History" (by Kennedy aide Theodore J. Sorensen): @

Inauguration Gala:
* Official program: @
* Footage (76 minutes, from JFK Library): @
* Footage (18 minutes, from Museum of Broadcast Communications; click on link -- Windows Media Player only): @

* Poet Robert Frost wrote "Dedication" for the occasion. He began reading it but could not finish because of the sun's glare. Instead he recited "The Gift Outright" from memory. Text of both poems: @
* The speech ranks second in a 1999 survey of scholars on the best political speeches of the 20th century. Full list: @
* Time magazine (January 27): @
* Life magazine (January 27): @
* Ebony magazine (March): @
* List of firsts: @
* Lesson plan for high schoolers (from jfklibrary.org): @
* "Inauguration Weather: The Case of Kennedy" (January 2009 article from The Washington Post): @

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