January 23, 2005: Headlines: Presidents - Kennedy: Speeches: Inauguration: Winston-Salem Journal: Tunisia RPCV Thurston Clarke examines JFK's memorable inaugural address

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Special Reports: January 18, 2005: Ask Not: January 15, 2005: Headlines: Presidents - Kennedy: Speeches: Inauguration: New York Times: Ask How by Tunisia RPCV Thurston Clarke : January 23, 2005: Headlines: Presidents - Kennedy: Speeches: Inauguration: Winston-Salem Journal: Tunisia RPCV Thurston Clarke examines JFK's memorable inaugural address

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-13-244.balt.east.verizon.net - on Sunday, January 23, 2005 - 5:34 pm: Edit Post

Tunisia RPCV Thurston Clarke examines JFK's memorable inaugural address

Tunisia RPCV Thurston Clarke examines JFK's memorable inaugural address

Tunisia RPCV Thurston Clarke examines JFK's memorable inaugural address

Historian examines JFK's memorable inaugural address
Ask Not, by Thurston Clarke

Sunday, January 23, 2005

By Beth Woodard


ASK NOT: The Inauguration of John F. Kennedy and the Speech That Changed America. By Thurston Clarke. Holt. 272 pages. $25.

This book will not satisfy the conspiracy theorists who devote countless hours to speculations about John F. Kennedy's military service or private life or the geography of Dealey Plaza. But it is an intricate and complex character portrait of the man and a speech so famous that lines from it have become sewn subtly into American speech.

The bulk of the book is devoted to analyzing whether Kennedy wrote the speech, delivered on Jan. 20, 1961, himself. That judgment, it turns out, depends on what your definition of wrote is.

Thurston Clarke, a historian and writer, makes it clear that the ideas he presented and the thrust of the speech's emotions were entirely his, and were not so much calculated gestures as they were thoughts that came from the core of who he was and how he had been shaped.

All his life, Kennedy had been a reader and an avid follower of current events. He had carried a notebook in which he wrote down ideas he wished to take to heart and fragments of speeches he thought exceptional.

Kennedy's travels in Europe and Southeast Asia, his experiences in prewar England and his combat experience in World War II all shaped him.

So too did the fact that he had been reared almost from birth to be a politician. Charm and calculation both came naturally to him, so much so that it is a matter of debate whether his calculated moves were wholly conscious. Ted Sorensen, his chief writer, so worshipped his plans and ideas and had worked with him for so long that not only their phrasing and rhythms but also their ideas overlapped. It is sometimes hard to tell which part of which draft is whose.

All this matters because the speech shook dust off an entire generation of young people, igniting them to go forth and do ... something. Scores joined the newly formed Peace Corps, signed up for VISTA, helped start the Special Olympics, flocked to the space-exploration program. Scores more would go to war. That the 1960s turned out to be an earthquake of a decade for America was in large measure because of Kennedy's speech.

It contains unmistakable warnings and limits on nuclear weapons, the threat of communism and the shaky first steps of former colonies just coming into autonomy. It uses lofty rhetoric that never becomes maudlin or overblown. And the reason it is so crisply crafted is that Kennedy called on his own depths, Sorensen's skills and the suggestions of a cluster of prominent men to pour ideas into 17 drafts that would finally become the speech.

The end impression a reader comes away with is that it was nonetheless an honest and moving expression of a man who was the product of both privilege and immigrant roots, a man who wanted to make his country better.

Woodard, a former Journal editorial assistant, now writes from Jamestown.

When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Ask Not Date: January 18 2005 No: 388 Ask Not
As our country prepares for the inauguration of a President, we remember one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century and how his words inspired us. "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."

January 15, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: January 15 2005 No: 375 January 15, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
Bellamy finishing term - Veneman to head Unicef 15 Jan
230 RPCVs volunteer for Crisis Corps 14 Jan
Peace Corps Fund needs silent auction items 12 Jan
Matt Gould in one-man Peace Corps show in Hollywood 12 Jan
Taylor Hackford's "Ray" Nominated for Golden Globe 12 Jan
Ambassador Johnson shares memories of Thailand 11 Jan
Senator Dodd suggests PC return to Venezuela 11 Jan
Ambassador Hull wants PC to return to Sierra Leone 11 Jan
Poiriers unhappy with PC investigation of missing son 10 Jan
Emile Hons reflects on the Deborah Gardner murder case 10 Jan
Judge Paul A. Bastine criticized for stalling Divorce 6 Jan
Volunteer Patricia D. Scatoloni dies in Macedonia 4 Jan
more top stories...

Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion Date: January 8 2005 No: 373 Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion
Senator Norm Coleman, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee that oversees the Peace Corps, says in an op-ed, A chance to show the world America at its best: "Even as that worthy agency mobilizes a "Crisis Corps" of former Peace Corps volunteers to assist with tsunami relief, I believe an opportunity exists to rededicate ourselves to the mission of the Peace Corps and its expansion to touch more and more lives."
RPCVs active in new session of Congress Date: January 8 2005 No: 374 RPCVs active in new session of Congress
In the new session of Congress that begins this week, RPCV Congressman Tom Petri has a proposal to bolster Social Security, Sam Farr supported the objection to the Electoral College count, James Walsh has asked for a waiver to continue heading a powerful Appropriations subcommittee, Chris Shays will no longer be vice chairman of the Budget Committee, and Mike Honda spoke on the floor honoring late Congressman Robert Matsui.
RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid  Date: January 4 2005 No: 366 Latest: RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid
Peace Corps made an appeal last week to all Thailand RPCV's to consider serving again through the Crisis Corps and more than 30 RPCVs have responded so far. RPCVs: Read what an RPCV-led NGO is doing about the crisis an how one RPCV is headed for Sri Lanka to help a nation he grew to love. Question: Is Crisis Corps going to send RPCVs to India, Indonesia and nine other countries that need help?
The World's Broken Promise to our Children Date: December 24 2004 No: 345 The World's Broken Promise to our Children
Former Director Carol Bellamy, now head of Unicef, says that the appalling conditions endured today by half the world's children speak to a broken promise. Too many governments are doing worse than neglecting children -- they are making deliberate, informed choices that hurt children. Read her op-ed and Unicef's report on the State of the World's Children 2005.
Changing of the Guard Date: December 15 2004 No: 330 Changing of the Guard
With Lloyd Pierson's departure, Marie Wheat has been named acting Chief of Staff and Chief of Operations responsible for the day-to-day management of the Peace Corps. Although Wheat is not an RPCV and has limited overseas experience, in her two years at the agency she has come to be respected as someone with good political skills who listens and delegates authority and we wish her the best in her new position.
Our debt to Bill Moyers Our debt to Bill Moyers
Former Peace Corps Deputy Director Bill Moyers leaves PBS next week to begin writing his memoir of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Read what Moyers says about journalism under fire, the value of a free press, and the yearning for democracy. "We have got to nurture the spirit of independent journalism in this country," he warns, "or we'll not save capitalism from its own excesses, and we'll not save democracy from its own inertia."
RPCV safe after Terrorist Attack RPCV safe after Terrorist Attack
RPCV Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the U.S. consul general in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia survived Monday's attack on the consulate without injury. Five consular employees and four others were killed. Abercrombie-Winstanley, the first woman to hold the position, has been an outspoken advocate of rights for Arab women and has met with Saudi reformers despite efforts by Saudi leaders to block the discussions.
Is Gaddi Leaving? Is Gaddi Leaving?
Rumors are swirling that Peace Corps Director Vasquez may be leaving the administration. We think Director Vasquez has been doing a good job and if he decides to stay to the end of the administration, he could possibly have the same sort of impact as a Loret Ruppe Miller. If Vasquez has decided to leave, then Bob Taft, Peter McPherson, Chris Shays, or Jody Olsen would be good candidates to run the agency. Latest: For the record, Peace Corps has no comment on the rumors.
The Birth of the Peace Corps The Birth of the Peace Corps
UMBC's Shriver Center and the Maryland Returned Volunteers hosted Scott Stossel, biographer of Sargent Shriver, who spoke on the Birth of the Peace Corps. This is the second annual Peace Corps History series - last year's speaker was Peace Corps Director Jack Vaughn.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Winston-Salem Journal

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Presidents - Kennedy; Speeches; Inauguration



Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.