Currents Salty Air

Ask What You Can Do For Your Country, An Essay (With Help From JFK)

John F. Kennedy
Written by Brian Tarcy

HYANNIS – It struck us upon seeing the statue of John F. Kennedy wearing a protective mask outside of the under renovation John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum that President Kennedy once dealt with an existential threat to America.

The mask on a statue of the President who steered the world safely through the Cuban Missile Crisis seemed to symbolize something to us during this pandemic.

And so here are just a few quotes we gathered from the website of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library And Museum of our 35th President that are maybe appropriate right now in what seems, at least to us, to be a leadership void during a national crisis.

For instance:

John F. Kennedy“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”  Rice University, September 12, 1962

“Ask not what your country can do for you…ask what you can do for your country.”  Inaugural address, January 20, 1961John F. Kennedy

“…what really counts is not the immediate act of courage or of valor, but those who bear the struggle day in and day out – not the sunshine patriots but those who are willing to stand for a long period of time.”  – “Remarks at the White House to Members of the American Legion, March 1, 1962

“Let us not despair but act. Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer but the right answer.” – Loyola College annual alumni banquet, February 18, 1958 

“…we must think and act not only for the moment but for our time.” – Address in Berkeley at the University of California, March 23, 1962

More JFK quotes from the JFK Presidential Library

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About the author

Brian Tarcy

Brian Tarcy is co-founder of Cape Cod Wave. He is a longtime journalist who has written for the Boston Globe, Boston magazine, the Cape Cod Times and several other publications. He is the author of "YOU CAN'T SELL RIGHT FIELD; A Cape Cod Novel." He is also the author or co-author of more than a dozen mostly non-fiction books, including books with celebrity athletes Cam Neely, Tom Glavine and Joe Theisman. His previous book was, "ALMOST: 12 Electric Months Chasing A Silicon Valley Dream" with Hap Klopp,who created the iconic brand, The North Face.
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Brian is a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan with a long-running NFL predictions/political satire column connecting weekly world events to the fate of his favorite team, now at

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