Profound Words of Wisdom from JFK

Bronze statue of President John F. Kennedy in Fort Worth, Texas commemorating his last day on earth.

Profound Words of Wisdom from JFK

JFK wasn’t in office for long, but he made quite an impact when looking at Cold War politics. The youngest president elected to office, it is mere speculation to think about what Kennedy could’ve accomplished with a second term. That said, today we’re looking at some of my favorite quotes from the 35th President of the United States.


JFK’s debate was the first one ever televised.
©"Public Domain: JFK with Shah of Iran by Robert Knudsen, 1962 (NARA)" by pingnews.com is licensed under PDM 1.0. - Original / License

“If freedom is to survive and prosper, it will require the sacrifice, the effort and the thoughtful attention of every citizen.”

JFK served during the Second World War, risking his well-being to rescue his crewmates. The concept of sacrifice seems to have been ingrained in him despite the silver spoon he was born with.

The Past

The Kennedy family had JFK as president, Robert as the Attorney General, and Ted as a Senator all at the same time.
©"REMEMBERING JFK" by roberthuffstutter is licensed under BY 2.0. - Original / License

“The stories of past courage…can teach, they can offer hope, they can provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this, each man must look into his own soul.”

This is a beautiful quote and one that I find to be quite true. JFK’s impact might have been small in the grand scheme, but his own courage and convictions would be carried forward by his successor.


JFK is the youngest president ever elected to the office, he was inaugurated at the age of 43.
©"President John F. Kennedy" by U.S. Embassy New Delhi is licensed under BY-ND 2.0. - Original / License

“A man does what he must—in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality.”

JFK’s take on morality and duty rings true in the modern era. While the times have changed, the core ethos of every person certainly hasn’t.


JFK held a Pulitzer Prize while in office, which he won for his autobiography.
©"Released to Public: President John F. Kennedy at NASA, 1962 (NASA)" by pingnews.com is licensed under PDM 1.0. - Original / License

“Let us not emphasize all on which we differ but all we have in common. Let us consider not what we fear separately but what we share together.”

You could see the fires of the Civil Rights Movement raging throughout the 60s, it only makes sense that JFK would be championing what makes people alike rather than what separates us.


Kennedy is the only president to have received a Purple Heart.
©"President John F. Kennedy and daughter Caroline, 2 in Hyannisport," by thesmuggler- Night of the Swallow' is licensed under BY 2.0. - Original / License

“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”

The 1960s saw increased strife socially as the structures supporting the United States were called into question. It is nice to see that JFK took the poor and the rich into consideration when speaking.

Hard Times

JFK was already a seasoned politician before becoming president. He was elected to the House of Representatives at the age of 29.
©"President John F. Kennedy" by U.S. Embassy New Delhi is licensed under BY-ND 2.0. - Original / License

“I think the American people expect more from us than cries of indignation and attack. The times are too grave, the challenge too urgent, and the stakes too high—to permit the customary passions of political debate. We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future.”

The 1960s were a time for action, rather than the political posturing seen in subsequent decades. Curiously, the 1960s and 1970s saw plenty of legislation expanding the rights of American citizens, so JFK was onto something.

The New Frontier

Kennedy barely won the popular vote against Nixon, his victory primarily came from the Electoral College.
©"Public Domain: President John F. Kennedy with Robert F. Kennedy and J. Edgar Hoover by Cecil Stoughton (NARA)" by pingnews.com is licensed under PDM 1.0. - Original / License

“That is the question of the New Frontier. That is the choice our nation must make—a choice that lies not merely between two men or two parties, but between the public interest and private comfort—between national greatness and national decline—between the fresh air of progress and the stale, dank atmosphere of “normalcy”—between determined dedication and creeping mediocrity. All mankind waits upon our decision. A whole world looks to see what we will do. We cannot fail their trust, we cannot fail to try.”

This speech came in the wake of JFK’s nomination for the presidency at the Democratic National Convention. To say things would greatly change when he took office was an understatement, as sweeping reforms and regulations would be implemented in the following decade.


JFK taped most conversations he had while in office. These tapes have largely been declassified so you can have a glimpse into the politics of the era.
©"Norman Rockwell Portrait of John F. Kennedy" by manhhai is licensed under BY 2.0. - Original / License

“My fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

This is one quote that has achieved its own legendary reputation. Being an American citizen isn’t just about benefitting from what the country provides, but also the value and service you provide while living here.


Before his assassination, JFK had been given the last rites 3 separate times.
©"John F Kennedy - 35th President" by edwarddallas is licensed under BY 2.0. - Original / License

“If more politicians knew poetry, and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place in which to live.”

A final pithy quote from JFK, and one that holds true even today. A respect for the arts is a respect for the culture of our great country.

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