Today's Google Doodle reminds us that 50 years ago today, in 1961, President John F. Kennedy gave his only inaugural address. It was the start of the years known in American history as "Camelot" and was followed by his assassination in November of 1963.
The speech, which took place on the podium outside the capitol, famously asked Americans to:
Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country.
It was an optimistic time and such a stark contrast to the rhetoric and the anger and the selfishness we see in politics today. Perhaps it's romanticized. There were certainly many problems in 1961 as well, but somehow we seem to have strayed from the basic message Kennedy shared so passionately. See the address below:
In the past two weeks alone, we have seen the Peace Corps -- that ultimate symbol of America's youthful idealism -- turn 50 amidst allegations of rape cover-ups. We have seen the woman who may be President some day turn the tragic shooting in Tucson into the "Sarah Palin Is a Victim Variety Hour." And we have seen our country torn apart even more divisively by those whose belief systems are so divergent, they resemble different moral codes and ethics.
We are living in pessimistic times where people are asking how to help themselves and feed their bottom line rather than how they might help their fellow man, let alone their country. Look no further than health care. There are some who feel that health care is a right, not a privilege, and who would work tirelessly to make sure we all have it. We know where Kennedy would have fallen, given Ted Kennedy's (his brother) tireless work on behalf of health care reform.
On the other side we have those who don't want to be told how to spend their money. We have the Tea Party, whose members believe in individual responsibility and push lowering taxes.
We have a hopeful, optimistic President who often can't seem to get much accomplished. Even he seems frustrated by the division. If we love our country, we ought to want to fight for it, but lately it seems like fighting is all we do. Optimism has left the building, and in its place is this weird sort of sadness and anger that pervades almost everything we do.
Do you think JFK's message is dead?
Image via Google