Third Congressional District

Democratic Committee

Kennedy Quotations

John Fitzgerald Kennedy [1917-1963]

  • “Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.”
  • “I'm an idealist without illusions.”
  • “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”
    • ~ Inaugural Address - 20 Jan 1961 ~
  • “It is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war.”
  • “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. ”
    • ~ Inaugural Address - 20 Jan 1961 ~
  • “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.”
    • ~ Inaugural Address - 20 Jan 1961 ~
  • “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. ”
  • “The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.”
    • ~ Speech, 18 May 1963, Vanderbilt University, Nashville TN ~
  • “The new frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises—it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them. It appeals to their pride, not their pocketbook—it holds out the promise of more sacrifice instead of more security.”
    • ~ Accepting the Democratic presidential nomination 15 Jul 1960 ~
  • “We believe that if men have the talent to invent new machines that put men out of work, they have the talent to put those men back to work.”
  • “When we got into office, the thing that surprised me most was to find that things were just as bad as we'd been saying they were.”
  • “When written in Chinese the word crisis is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.”
    • ~ Speech, 12 Apr 1959, Indianapolis ~
  • “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
    • ~ Inaugural Address - 20 Jan 1961 ~
  • “If we cannot end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.”
  • “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute -- where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishoners for whom to vote -- where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference -- and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.”
  • “Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.”
  • “Liberty without learning is always in peril and learning without liberty is always in vain.”
  • “The unity of freedom has never relied on uniformity of opinion.”
  • “If we make peaceful revolution impossible, we make violent revolution inevitable.”
  • “We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”
  • “Every time that we try to lift a problem from our own shoulders, and shift that problem to the hands of the government, to the same extent we are sacrificing the liberties of our people.”
  • “A man does what he must -- in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers -- and this is the basis of all human morality.”
  • “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”
  • “The wave of the future is not the conquest of the world by a single dogmatic creed but the liberation of the diverse energies of free nations and free men.”
  • “There is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.”

Robert F Kennedy [1925-1968]

  • “The future is not a gift: it is an achievement. Every generation helps make its own future. This is the essential challenge of the present.”
    • ~ Address, Seattle World's Fair, August 7, 1962 ~
  • “Since the days of Greece and Rome when the word 'citizen' was a title of honor, we have often seen more emphasis put on the rights of citizenship than on its responsibilities. And today, as never before in the free world, responsibility is the greatest right of citizenship and service is the greatest of freedom's privileges.”
    • ~ Speech, University of San Francisco Law School, September 29, 1962 ~
  • “All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don't. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.”
  • “And as long as America must choose, that long will there be a need and a place for the Democratic Party. We Democrats can run on our record but we cannot rest on it. We will win if we continue to take the initiative and if we carry the message of hope and action throughout the country. Alexander Smith once said, 'A man doesn't plant a tree for himself. He plants it for posterity.' Let us continue to plant, and our children shall reap the harvest. That is our destiny as Democrats. ”
  • “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.”
  • “It is not enough to understand, or to see clearly. The future will be shaped in the arena of human activity, by those willing to commit their minds and their bodies to the task.”
  • “Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.”
  • “One-fifth of the people are against everything all the time.”
  • “Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.”
  • “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black ...”
  • “What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists, is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.”
    • ~ 1964? ~
  • “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”
    • ~ Day of Affirmation Address, University of Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966 ~
  • “I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil.”
    • ~ Speech, Athens, Georgia, May 6, 1961 ~