what legacy did kennedy bequeath to the nation could he have avoided the pitfalls of massive engagement in the quagmire of vietnam was he afraid to confront or resolutely committed to the cause of domestic reform shortly before his assassinatio

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shortly before his assassination, after the tension of the Cuban Missile Crisis, he addressed graduates of American University reminding the students that “we all breath the same air, drink the same water and have the same hopes for our children.” Was Kennedy truly the champion of bold new ideas or an unsure leader who never politically matured to the point of accomplishing the changes he verbalized?

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was inaugurated with rhetorical elegance and the promise to “get the nation moving once again.” In the words of his most gifted speech writer, attorney Theodore Sorensen, Kennedy challenged the American people “not to ask what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.” Kennedy spoke eloquently of “new frontiers”, called for sacrifices to spread freedom to a world suffering under ideological tyranny and the shackles of centuries of colonialism but remained wary of the prospect of rapidly moving forward on the need to address domestic segregation. Kennedy was suave, charismatic, a Harvard graduate but had a reputation of eloquence despite scant substantive ideas how to achieve the lofty goals he so engagingly put forth. His skepticism over the CIA fiasco at the Bay of Pigs was followed by crises in the Congo, Laos and throughout Latin America. Kennedy proved to be an adept crisis manager, listening to a variety of viewpoints before selecting a bold but pragmatic solution. Two issues which eluded resolution during his tenure however were rigid segregation in the rural south, residential segregation and lack of opportunity in the urban north, as well as the escalating violence and domestic unrest within Vietnam. The relatively youthful and charismatic president was wracked with back pain from wounds suffered during his service as a naval officer during World War II. The president’s much photographed appearance of vigor and enthralling eloquence was marked by the rise of a generation of affluent American and European youth whose hedonistic indulgences polarized and energized cultural changes on a global basis.

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Also posted onJanuary 1, 1970 @ 12:00 am