Flags all across the United States are flying at half-staff today. 50 years ago on this day, November 22nd, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and the nation was fundamentally changed, for better or worse. Even after 50 years, JFK’s influence and resonance are profound. A man who was a symbol for a generation’s hopes and dreams, who took the helm of the United States and guided it through such legendary events as the Cuban Missie Crisis, is even today the subject of vibrant debate and discourse. JFK established the Peace Corps, was the first Catholic President in America’s history, and started the program that would eventually put a man on the moon.

Quotes about John F. Kennedy

David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom:

Fifty years ago John F Kennedy lost his life – and the world lost an inspiration. Wherever you go in the world today, the three letters – JFK – are instantly recognisable. They summon up the very best of politics: energy, optimism, hope – the belief that a nation united can achieve almost anything.

It was these ideals which came to define the Kennedy Presidency. He demanded that his country rise to the challenges of its time – and the people responded in kind. Although, his Presidency was tragically cut short, its legacy was felt long after. Civil rights, a man on the moon: both achieved after his death – but only possible because of the leadership shown during his life.

David McCullough, Historian:

As his campaign song said, he had high hopes, and so did we — and on we go. He knew words matter. His words changed lives. His words changed history.

Mike Rawlings, Mayor of Dallas:

A new era dawned and another waned a half-century ago, when hope and hatred collided right here in Dallas. We watched the nightmarish reality in our front yard. Our president had been taken from us, taken from his family, taken from the world. Our city will forever be linked in tragedy, yes. But out of tragedy, an opportunity was granted to us how to face the future when it’s the darkest and uncertain.

Robert F. Kennedy:

No matter what talent an individual possesses, what energy he might have, no matter how much integrity and how much honesty he might have, if he is by himself, and particularly a political figure, he can accomplish very little. But if he is sustained, as President Kennedy was, by the Democratic Party all over the United States, dedicated to the same things that he was attempting to accomplish, he can accomplish a great deal.

No one knew that more than President John F. Kennedy.

John Hickenlooper, Governor of Colorado:

John F. Kennedy was the reason why an awful lot of us got into public life. Even me, I didn’t get into public life until I was 50, but we had a model of him throughout most of our lives — that citizens could play a role in making our communities better.

Keating Holland, pollster, CNN

Perhaps the real tribute to Kennedy’s legacy is that his approval rating is 90% in a time when it is nearly impossible to get nine in ten Americans to agree on anything.

Scott D. Reich, author of The Power of Citizenship: Why John F. Kennedy Matters to a New Generation

He gives us this lasting image of what we want our country to look like. . . . We still have this feeling we want to be inspired, we want to be challenged

From a never-delivered speech that John F. Kennedy was to give at a luncheon the day he was killed:

We in this country, in this generation, are, by destiny rather than choice, the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of ‘peace on earth, goodwill toward men.’ That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength.

JFK Infographic below

John F. Kennedy JFK

John F. Kennedy Infographic via Alltop.com