SAN JOSE, November 22, 2013 — At this solemn occasion of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, it is appropriate to take time to acknowledge one of the most dynamic leaders of the Democrat Party in the last 50 years.
John Kennedy, was born on May 29, 1917. The first president born after 1900, Kennedy was the youngest man to be elected president of the United States. To many Americans who were alive at the time of Kennedy’s presidency, it seemed refreshing to have such a young leader at the helm of the Executive Branch.
Kennedy brought a fresh energy and passion to the White House that most Americans had never witnessed. His vitality was reminiscent of Theodore Roosevelt’s vigor while Teddy was in office. However, for those who remember, the international turbulence during this time may stand out the most, since the US and the Soviet Union faced off against each other quite often during this time. Ultimately, the two superpowers came extremely close to the brink of nuclear war during the dark days of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Yet in light of the recent celebration of Memorial Day, it is ironic that Kennedy’s decision to send troops to a little south east Asian country may have altered America much more significantly than the Cuban affair. US military involvement in Vietnam eventually left a lasting impact upon the country that generated deep divisions in the political landscape and within the collective psyche of the country.
During and after the Vietnam War, there was a serious shift in public sentiment towards veterans returning from the battlefields. Outright animosity and disrespect directed against returning troops became substantiated as some veterans were spit upon and cursed as they came back to resettle into their communities and to reunite with their families.
On the other hand, veterans returning from Korea were treated with respect and a higher regard towards the military at the time. But was Kennedy’s motivation in sending troops to Vietnam that much different from Truman’s efforts to commit US troops to Korea?
Despite the fact that there are numerous differences with regard to Truman sending the US military to Korea and Kennedy sending troops to Vietnam, the intent of each leader was essentially the same. Both Truman and Kennedy were responding to the Communist threat in each respective divided nation.
In both conflicts, the Soviet Union had trained the leaders of the communist advance and had prompted efforts to take over the territories that were democratically inclined. As Truman had determined to stand firmly against international communist expansion, so too had Kennedy responded to the communist threat of the takeover of South Vietnam.
To both of these American leaders the spread of Communism was equivalent to the spread of slavery. Although intellectually enticing in theory, the practical application of worldwide Communism showed up as deceptive, manipulative and usually requiring the blatant use of force to enable the implementation of the Marxist-Leninist ideology within most cultures. To many Americans, Communism represented the exact opposite of Freedom and Liberty and slavery by any other name is still slavery. Kennedy was an American and expressed it emphatically in his inaugural address:
We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom, symbolizing an end as well as a beginning, signifying renewal as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago.
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, in order 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.
John F. Kennedy may have represented many things to many people during his days as President of the United States, but he was certainly consistent in his valuation of civil rights as well as human rights. This consistency of perception is what prompted him to support the efforts of those fighting for the Civil Rights movement within the United States and it is what prompted him to support the human rights of the people of South Vietnam.
To do any differently would have been a supreme hypocrisy. Yet many in this nation, at that turbulent time, did not have such vision, nor did many have such courage as John F. Kennedy.
The nation is very different now. If John Kennedy were alive today, it is likely he would not recognize his own Democratic party because the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are once again at issue within this country. The belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.
Today, the party of Truman and Kennedy is not the same Democratic party because the proverbial buck is quite readily passed on through accusation and blame. The party faithful ask what the country or the government can do for them, and not what they can do for their country.
Americans, who were alive during Kennedy’s presidency, may retain a variety of memories regarding JFK, or lasting impressions of dangerous and turbulent days in the early 1960s. Kennedy faced many issues at home and abroad that tested his genuine resolve, and ultimately his presidency came to a horrific end on that fateful day in November of 1963.
Sadly, when John Kennedy died, it seemed as though the better part of the Democratic Party died. It seems as though a more healthy vision of America died as well. The nation certainly changed for the worse in many respects, and may have never completely recovered from such a sad and tragic loss.
This much is true, the nation may never know who was ultimately responsible for ending the life of John F. Kennedy, but Kennedy opposed Communism as much as Abraham Lincoln opposed slavery and both lost their lives while standing up strongly and stubbornly for Freedom in a very hostile and turbulent world. Americans should never forget that they are the heirs of that Freedom, passed down through the generations from the first revolution. New pride should formulate upon the true meaning of America’s ancient heritage, for the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans to assume a more active role of defending Freedom in this hour of maximum danger.
May God bless the memory of John F. Kennedy for his efforts to stand for Freedom and the Land of the Free.
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