A Guest Contribution
I just discovered the following on buzzflash.com, which is essentially the left-wing Drudge Report. For the record I have never met or even heard of the author before, and am reproducing his work, obviously, for non-commercial use only. The language does not quite achieve the Kennedy-Sorensen touch, but the message, I think, could hardly be improved upon, and no one who has been reading this posts will have any doubt as to why I decided to post it. I am not ashamed to say that I had to pause and wipe my eyes more than once. I encourage you all to circulate it as widely as you possibly can.
A Message From John Fitzgerald Kennedy On November 22, 2006Submitted by BuzzFlash on Wed, 11/22/2006 - 8:08am. Guest Contribution
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
by Brent Budowsky
My fellow Americans:
On November 22 four decades ago I left you, and for those of you who think of me, let me ask a personal favor: reflect for a moment on the world we lived in, the things we believed in, the deeds we did, and the Nation we left in trust for you.
I was born as America was winning the First World War, was young when America won the Second World War, and was President when America was winning the battle of ideas that led to our victory in the Cold War.
History teaches lessons; here are some I pass on, to you.
I was the younger generation, within the great generation. I was never comfortable with that term, great generation, because what makes America America, is that every generation can be great. Some are, some aren't. It was up to us. Now it is up to you.
When I was a young man, we faced and we defeated the challenge of fascism. When I was President in middle age, we met the challenge of communism. Had I lived long enough, I would have been with you, when the last brick was torn down from the Berlin Wall, where I once stood as the leader of America and the leader of the free world.
On that day, I was with you in spirit, there were tears of joy and cheers of triumph from every corner in heaven.
To those of you who are young in 2006, now it is your world, now it is your time, now it is your day to dream and your world to build. On those days you are surrounded by cynicism and war, by anger and chaos, do not let anyone tell you otherwise. It is your day to dream. It is your world to build. We did it. You can do it. Make us proud.
When I was a young man and fascism was on the march, my entire family, my entire country, my entire generation answered the call. It was not easy. It was hard. But the magic of our moment and the reason for our victory was clear: we were in it together.
My brothers and I signed up for the war. My sisters signed up to do their part, in their way, in Europe and America. Even Dad finally got into the spirit, a little bit late, as I told him at the time.
When I was fighting in the South Pacific we not only won great victories but made friends that lasted for life. When my brother Joe flew that last mission over the English Channel, we mourned when we lost him, but we were proud and we knew the price for freedom was high.
My message is this: every American belongs to a proud and great family. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Do not let anyone divide you from each other. We are all in the family of America. We are all in this together. So long as you remember this, you can climb any mountain on earth, and when you stand together and share the view from the summit, you will know that it was worth the effort.
Years later I stood at the gates of the Berlin Wall, and looked out to hundreds of thousands of Berliners with hopes in their hearts and stars in their eyes.
Think back on those days: the foot of Soviet communism on the neck of Eastern Europe. The danger of nuclear extermination in the air. Little children in America were taught to hide under their desks in school, as though they would not be incinerated if the radioactive bombs fell. Little children under communism grew up to fear the knock on the door, in the dark of their night, when Mom and Dad could disappear.
But we triumphed; America triumphed; freedom triumphed. The world became a much better place. The young children in America no longer had to hide under their desks. The children in Europe no longer had to fear the knock on the door in the middle of the night.
And I ask you: how many countries did America invade to achieve these great goals? Sure, we threatened war over Berlin. Yes, we built the greatest military arsenal in the history of the world. But it was the Russians who invaded Eastern Europe, not us. It was the Russians who blockaded Berlin, not us. It was the Russians who built that Wall not to keep people out, but to keep people in.
My message is this: you have allowed the military to deteriorate with some very badly chosen decisions, and you will have to rebuild it. Life is unfair. You made your mistakes. Now fix them.
But: always remember that our great weapon is not the power of our shock and awe bombing, or our preemptive wars. It is the great truth of the power of our ideas. We must always be militarily strong, but the force of our ideas is always more powerful than the reckless use of force.
Remember: sometimes it takes more courage to champion the cause of peace than to bang the drums of war, and always America is strongest when we align ourselves with the highest aspirations of those who's hearts and minds should be joined with ours.
For the last six years, for the first time since 1948, the United States of America has been totally absent from leadership in the search for Middle East peace. Totally absent from the courage and vision to dare to offer a generation of young people throughout the Middle East a true hope for a better life. Those who have taken such reckless risks for war, have not even initiated the smallest steps for peace.
This is unprecedented. This is wrong. We must never surrender diplomacy to those who wish us ill. We must never surrender the streets to the suicide bombers and those who pray on anguish, humiliation and poverty. We must always offer a better way and take the same risks for peace, we take for war.
Remember: we negotiated with our enemies from strength, and offered the world the hope of a nuclear test ban treaty and the freedom from fear of nuclear extermination. We built the Alliance for Progress to promote opportunity throughout our hemisphere. We championed the Peace Corps to create goodwill and hope throughout our world. We worked through the problems of the United Nations and made it work for our country, and our values.
We created the NATO alliance for security. We valued the Nuremberg rules and the Geneva Convention. We trusted the Organization of American States. We understood that international institutions and international agreements serve our interests and form a major bedrock of global security.
We were strong, and never negotiated out of fear. We were smart, and never feared to negotiate. We were tough, and stood behind our troops. We were wise, and sent our great leaders to represent our country in the world's institutions. John Bolton can point his finger at a map, but can never imitate the greatness of Adlai Stevenson staring down the Russians at the United Nations when the fate of the world hung in the balance over Cuba.
We were not perfect, but we never defined America's greatness by how much torture we could commit, how much fear we could create, or how much we could spy on each other.
We used the bully pulpit to win the battle of ideas, not to act like a bully and alienate the world.
We made our mistakes, you bet we did. But we stepped up to the plate, and admitted them. We learned from our mistakes, and did better the next time. We screwed up the Bay of Pigs, but saved the world from nuclear war when we were wise, as well as strong, to remove those missiles from Cuba.
We believed in social justice, civil rights, a rising tide that would lift all boats. We knew that in America, everyone should lift their eyes to the sky with hope and nobody should be excluded, embittered or left behind. We knew that in America, we were all in this together politically, economically and morally. We knew that this spirit gave America our truest power in the world.
To those of you who are young in America in 2006 do not believe the dividers, the haters, the pessimists. To those of you who are young around the world, always remember that we Americans make our share of mistakes, but we truly believe we are a beacon of hope, and when things go wrong, we set them right.
When you look around the world in 2006 you see problems, dangers and challenges from many directions but they are no greater than the problems, dangers and challenges we faced in our day.
War, chaos, instability, hunger, death, fear, environmental degradation, poverty, disease exist in every generation and always will.
Hope, courage, strength, vision, wisdom, truth, valor, daring, generosity and boldness exist in every generation, too, and will always triumph so long as we remain true to ourselves.
I cannot give you a five point program for every problem you face. That is your job. But I will tell you this: if you always remember the things that make America a special place, you will always rise to the challenge, and the world will stand with you. If you remember the things we tried to do, the things we did, and the legacy we handed to you, you might find some light on the stormy sea.
In the meantime we are up here, Franklin, Eleanor, Bobby, Martin, Abraham, my brother Joe, the guys who landed at Normandy, the dreamers who started the Marshall Plan and left footprints of the Peace Corps, the early test pilots who gave their lives for the dream of touching the moon and cheered when we got there, the heroes who wrote our great Declarations and Emancipations and the words that were born in blood but lived to move the world.
We are all up here together, rooting for you, cheering for you, hoping in some way to lift you, inspire you, and help you have your triumphs, as we had ours. I never promised it would be easy, I promised it would be hard, but I know you can do it, and I am with you, always.
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
Brent Budowsky served as Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, responsible for commerce and intelligence matters, including one of the core drafters of the CIA Identities Law. Served as Legislative Director to Congressman Bill Alexander, then Chief Deputy Whip, House of Representatives. Currently a member of the International Advisory Council of the Intelligence Summit. Left goverment in 1990 for marketing and public affairs business including major corporate entertainment and talent management. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.