Thursday, January 20, 2011

When the Trumpet Summoned Us

President John F. Kennedy delivered his famous Inaugural Address fifty years ago today. Here are some excerpts that usually don't get quoted but should:

"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.

To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required -- not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

So let us begin anew -- remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof.

Now the trumpet summons us again -- not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need -- not as a call to battle, though embattled we are -- but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation," a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself."