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John F. Kennedy quotes page 2

The very word secrecy is repugnant in a free and open society and we are as a people
inherently and historically opposed to secret societies to secret oaths and to secret

We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of
pertinent facts far outweigh the dangers which are sited to justify them. Even today there is
little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions.

Even today there is little value in ensuring the survival of our nation, if our traditions do not
survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased
security will be ceased upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of
official censorship and concealment.

That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control and no official of my
administration, weather his rank is high or low, civilian or military should interpret my words
here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle decent, to cover up our mistakes or
to withhold from the press or the public the facts that they deserve to know.

For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies
primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence. On infiltration instead of
invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on
guerillas by night instead of army's by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human
and material resources into the building of a tightly knit highly efficient machine that
combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations. Its
preparations are concealed not published, its mistakes are buried not headlined, its dissenters
are silenced not praised, no expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is

No president should fear public scrutiny of his program. For from that scrutiny comes
understanding and from that understanding comes support or opposition and both are
necessary. I'm not asking your newspapers to support an administration but I am asking your
help in the tremendous task of informing and alerting the American people for I have complete
confidence in the response and dedication of our citizens whenever they are fully informed. I
not only could not stifle controversy among your readers I welcome it. This administration
intends to be candid about its errors, for as a wise man once said "an error doesn't become a
mistake until you refuse to correct it."

We intend to accept full responsibility for our errors and we expect you to point them out
when we miss them. Without debate, without criticism no administration and no country can
succeed and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian law maker Solan decreed it a
crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy and that is why our press was protected by
the first amendment. The only business in America specifically protected by the constitution
not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and sentimental, not to
simply give the public what it wants but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers
and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and
sometimes even anger public opinion. This means greater coverage and analysis of
international news for it is no longer far away and foreign but close at hand and local. It
means greater attention to improved understanding of the news as well as improved
transmission and it means finally that government at all levels must meet its obligation to
provide you with the fullest possible information outside the narrowest limits of national

So it is to the printing press, to the recorder of man's deeds, to the keeper of his conscience,
the courier of his news that we look for strength and assistance confident that with your help
man will be what he was born to be: Free and independent.
John F. Kennedy

I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever
been gathered at the White House - with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson
dined alone.
John F. Kennedy

Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.
John F. Kennedy

A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the
men it remembers.
John F. Kennedy

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.
John F. Kennedy

Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men.
John F. Kennedy

When things don't go well they like to blame presidents; and that's something that presidents
are paid for.
John F. Kennedy

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien
philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the
truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.
John F. Kennedy

Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.
John F. Kennedy

Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. What is also true is that every community
gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on.
John F. Kennedy

There is, in addition to a courage with which men die; a courage by which men must live.
John F. Kennedy

We have become more and more not a nation of athletes but a nation of spectators.
John F. Kennedy

My fellow Americans, let us take that first step. Let us... step back from the shadow of
war and seek out the way of peace. And if that journey is a thousand miles, or even more,
let history record that we, in this land, at this time, took the first step.
John F. Kennedy

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.
John F. Kennedy

Our problems are manmade - therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big
as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man's reason and spirit
have often solved the seemingly unsolvable - and we believe they can do it again.
John F. Kennedy

A police state finds that it cannot command the grain to grow.
John F. Kennedy

This country cannot afford to be materially rich and spiritually poor.
John F. Kennedy

If we cannot now end our differences, al least we can help make the world safe for diversity.
John F. Kennedy

Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer.
John F. Kennedy

If more politicians knew poetry, and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world
would be a little better place in which to live.
John F. Kennedy

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