John F. Kennedy was one of the most beloved presidents in United States history. The youngest president ever elected, he was born on May 29, 1917, and was 43 years old when he was inaugurated in 1961.
He was assassinated less than three years later on Nov. 22, 1963, at the age of 46, but he has remained a crucial part of American culture memory in the years since. His short time in office is sometimes remembered for its foreign policy challenges, but when most people think of JFK they picture his idyllic family and savor America’s very own version of royalty.
Kennedy would have been 99 years old if were still alive this year. In honor of the anniversary of his birthday, here are some of the most memorable quotes from the former president, courtesy of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Goodreads.
1. “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
2. “This country cannot afford to be materially rich and spiritually poor.”
3. “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”
4. “War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.”
5. “The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.”
6. “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”
7. “Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.”
8. “The life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, in the life of a nation, is very close to the center of a nation’s purpose ... and is a test of the quality of a nation’s civilization.”
9. “Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.”
10. “If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.”
11. “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”
12. “A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.”
13. “There are three things which are real; God, human folly and laughter. The first two are beyond our comprehension so we must do what we can with the third.”
14. “We celebrate the past to awaken the future.”