It was 50 years ago today…….

On a bitterly cold morning, 50 years ago today, crowds gathered before the east front of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. to hear the inaugural address of America’s 35th president. The crowds gathered that day, squeezed in between the east front and the Library of Congress, witnessed perhaps the greatest inaugural address in history.The youngest man to deliver an inaugural address and the first born in the twentieth century, the words and images from that day continue to resonate throughout the ages.  The expectations had not been high and certainly there was little in Kennedy’s previous rhetoric to suggest that the speech would be so memorable, but drawing upon the best of his campaign speeches, JFK and his aides, including Arthur Schlesinger and Ted Sorenson drafted a speech for the ages.

The inaugural was the harbinger of things to come; a golden age of public rhetoric and soaring addresses. From the White House to Rice University, from Berlin to Fort Worth, Kennedy’s inspiring words would deliver a message of hope and unity, of ideas and ideals. Kennedy would use humour to diffuse tension and self-deprecation to lighten the tone. He appreciated the absurdities of life and used irony in an attempt to explain it away as best he could.    

50 years on the address continues to resonate. The soaring rhetoric, the delivery, the overall imagery of that day continue to capture the imaginations of millions who were not born on that cold day in January 1961. The hope and the energy that the speech conveyed continues to inspire new generations to leadership, not only in the United States, but around the globe. The glow of the fire continues to light the way for those who believe in a better tomorrow and a more perfect world. The life of President Kennedy was stilled in tragic  circumstances, but his memory, his inspiration and his words live on in those of us who hold his life as an example to follow, a charge to keep and a cause to champion…

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