Posted by: nastylittletruths | January 14, 2011

New Year – Old Memories

At the beginning of every New Year there comes a sense of nostalgia, but this year especially will haves many anniversary landmarks. I will leave that for next week, but I’ve always taught my children (and hopefully grandchildren one day…) that we are unique in many ways – mostly because of the sum of our life experiences. Everyone has to make do with the time that was given to them, and when it was given to them, but like everyone else who has existed before and will come after me, I think that I’ve lived in the best of times because it was the time of giants…

When I was born, my father was 43 years old – the same age John F. Kennedy became President of the United States. I was but a child when he was elected, but the words that rang 50 years ago still resonate with me today. I see my beloved country struggling to make the turn from the precipice and sometimes I wonder if we will ever make it. But hope is perennial…

I’ve gotten criticisms before (lots!) for the admiration I have for the American governance structure and the patriotism of Americans, but I can’t help it. Words that were uttered centuries ago have come to pass and it’s no wonder because dreams and imagination can become reality with disciplined effort. Many Americans may remember these words by John Winthrop, but probably can’t recall that it was said nearly four centuries ago when he was facing the task of building a new government in a new world  –

“We must always consider,” he said, “that we shall be as a city upon a hill–the eyes of all people are upon us.”

JFK went further asking men and women who sought office and selection as a government:

“For of those to whom much is given, much is required. And when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each one of us–recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state–our success or failure, in whatever office we may hold, will be measured by the answers to four questions:

 First, were we truly men of courage–with the courage to stand up to one’s enemies–and the courage to stand up, when necessary, to one’s associates–the courage to resist public pressure, as well as private greed?

 Secondly, were we truly men of judgment–with perceptive judgment of the future as well as the past–of our own mistakes as well as the mistakes of others–with enough wisdom to know that we did not know, and enough candor to admit it?

 Third, were we truly men of integrity–men who never ran out on either the principles in which they believed or the people who believed in them–men who believed in us–men whom neither financial gain nor political ambition could ever divert from the fulfillment of our sacred trust?

 Finally, were we truly men of dedication–with an honor mortgaged to no single individual or group, and compromised by no private obligation or aim, but devoted solely to serving the public good and the national interest.

Let us hope that the arrogance of office disappears this year and the old words can bring some direction to those who lead us.

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