Tuesday, May 17, 2011

#137 / Ask Not

I well remember being stirred by President Kennedy's Inaugural Speech, in 1961, the year I graduated from high school.
And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.
During the 1960 campaign, not yet qualified to vote, I shook Kennedy's hand at a political dinner in San Francisco, and then attended a speech he gave at the Cow Palace.

I remember that speech as the speech in which Kennedy announced his plan to create the Peace Corps, though I may be confused. Wikipedia says the Peace Corps speech was given at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor. I do remember, clearly, though, buying a copy of Kennedy's book, The Strategy of Peace, at a San Francisco bookstore, or maybe at the event itself, which I clutched in my hands throughout his speech at the Cow Palace, and which I then read cover to cover over the weekend.

Today, I am as inspired as I ever was by a call to step forward and to sacrifice my personal plans and projects for a greater purpose, to defend and extend freedom in this world of our own creation.

No longer, however, do I find it easy to equate that greater calling with any specifically "national" agenda. I think I'm a member of the Earth Party, now.

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