President Kennedy’s inaugural speech addressed not only the American people

President Kennedy’s inaugural speech addressed not only the American people, but also people
throughout the world—including newly independent nations, old allies, and the Soviet Union.
Against a backdrop of deep snow and sunshine, more than twenty thousand people
huddled in 20-degree temperatures on the east front of the Capitol to witness the event. Kennedy,
having removed his topcoat and projecting both youth and vigor, delivered what has become a
landmark inaugural address.

Kennedy was praised by the literary community as well. Novelist Carson McCullers
wrote to the White House, saying, “I think that I have never been moved by words more than I
was by your inaugural address.” Writer Eudora Welty wrote that after hearing the speech, she
had felt “a surge of hope about life in general.” John Steinbeck observed that Kennedy’s words
were “nobly conceived and excellently written and delivered.”
Others dedicating their lives to
Kennedy’s New Frontier program included researchers and inventors who created exciting new
innovations in science and technology. Rosemary Dew, one of the first female FBI Special
Agents, opened her memoir by recounting how she was “inspired by John F. Kennedy and
hoped to make a difference in the world. Kennedy’s challenge—’Ask not what your country can
do for you but what you can do for your country’—affected me deeply . . . I wanted to serve my
Clearly, the “new generation” connected to the young president’s words and
seemed to welcome the challenge to “light the world” with the fire of American principles and
ideals (25)

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