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Posts Tagged ‘John Fitzgerald Kennedy’

Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, Reverend Clergy, fellow citizens:

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.

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Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, my copartners in Government, gentlemen and ladies:

The Constitution imposes upon me the obligation to “from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union.” While this has traditionally been interpreted as an annual affair, this tradition has been broken in extraordinary times.

These are extraordinary times. And we face an extraordinary challenge. Our strength as well as our convictions have imposed upon this nation the role of leader in freedom’s cause.

No role in history could be more difficult or more important. We stand for freedom. That is our conviction for ourselves�that is our only commitment to others. No friend, no neutral and no adversary should think otherwise. We are not against any man�or any nation�or any system�except as it is hostile to freedom. Nor am I here to present a new military doctrine, bearing any one name or aimed at any one area. I am here to promote the freedom doctrine.

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Kennedy speaks from the Oval Office in response to the National Guard being sent to protect African American students at the University of Alabama. The President declares that a moral crisis exists in America and requests congressional action to expedite desegregation through legislation.

Good evening, my fellow citizens:

This afternoon, following a series of threats and defiant statements, the presence of Alabama National Guardsmen was required on the University of Alabama to carry out the final and unequivocal order of the United States District Court of the Northern District of Alabama. That order called for the admission of two clearly qualified young Alabama residents who happened to have been born Negro.

That they were admitted peacefully on the campus is due in good measure to the conduct of the students of the University of Alabama, who met their responsibilities in a constructive way.

I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was rounded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.

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