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Quotations From JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY

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  • 1.
    I do not think it altogether inappropriate to introduce myself to this audience. I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris, and I have enjoyed it.
    John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963), U.S. Democratic politician, president. Speech, June 2, 1961, at SHAPE Headquarters, Paris, France.

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  • 2.
    My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.
    John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963), U.S. president. Inaugural address, January 20, 1961, Washington, DC. quoted in Theodore C. Sorenson, Kennedy, pt. 3, ch. 9 (1965). Kennedy continued, "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." Many antecedents to these words have been cited, including Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., in his Memorial Day address, 1884: "It is now the moment ... to recall what our country has done for each of us, and to ask ourselves what we can do for our country in return." Kennedy himself expressed the same idea in a televised campaign address, September 20, 1960.
  • 3.
    We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.
    John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963), U.S. Democratic politician, president. Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961, Washington, DC. quoted in Theodore C. Sorenson, Kennedy, pt. 3, ch. 9 (1965).
  • 4.
    Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
    John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963), U.S. Democratic politician, president. Speech, March 13, 1962, the White House. Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1962. Addressing the diplomatic corps of the Latin American republics.
  • 5.
    There is always inequality in life. Some men are killed in a war and some men are wounded and some men never leave the country. Life is unfair.
    John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963), U.S. president. Press conference, March 21, 1962.

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  • 6.
    When we got into office, the thing that surprised me most was to find that things were just as bad as we'd been saying they were.
    John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963), U.S. Democratic politician, president. Speech, May 27, 1961, at dinner honoring Kennedy's 44th birthday, Washington, DC.
  • 7.
    It is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war.
    John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963), U.S. Democratic politician, president. Speech, September 6, 1960, while campaigning for the presidency, Seattle, Washington.

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  • 8.
    Washington is a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm.
    John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963), U.S. Democratic politician, president. remark, Nov. 1961. Quoted in Portrait of a President, William Manchester (1962).

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  • 9.
    Now we have a problem in making our power credible, and Vietnam is the place.
    John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963), U.S. Democratic politician, president. Remark, June 1961, to journalist James Reston. Following Kennedy's meeting with Soviet premier Khrushchev.

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  • 10.
    You never know what's hit you. A gunshot is the perfect way.
    John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963), U.S. Democratic politician, president. quoted in Peter Collier and David Horowitz, The Kennedys, pt. 3, ch. 3 (1984). Kennedy responded with these words when asked how he would choose to die.

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