John F. Kennedy Quotes: 9 Lasting Thoughts

A look at the Kennedy family's legacy through President John F. Kennedy's enduring words and images.

By Caitlin O'Connell
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    Keystone/Getty Images

    History is a relentless master.

    It has no present, only the past rushing into the future. To try to hold fast is to be swept aside.—John F. Kennedy

    (Pictured: Then-Senator John F. Kennedy during nominations for the Democratic presidential candidacy, January 1960.)

    National Archive/Newsmakers

    The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word 'crisis.'

    One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger—but recognize the opportunity.—John F. Kennedy

    (Pictured: President John F. Kennedy speaks during a press conference in the Oval Office, June 11, 1963.)

    National Archive/Newsmakers

    The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of a final moment;

    it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy.—John F. Kennedy

    (Pictured: President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy ride in a parade in Washington, D.C., March 27, 1963.)

    Three Lions/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

    Too often...

    we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.—John F. Kennedy

    (Pictured: Then-U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy at his home in Georgetown, MA, with his brother Robert, 1955.)

    McCabe/Express/Getty Images

    Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet.

    We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal.—John F. Kennedy

    (Pictured: A young John F. Kennedy, Jr. (r) and his cousin Anthony (l) on a stroll through London's Green Park, March 13, 1965.)

    H.F. Davis/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

    Change is the law of life.

    And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.—John F. Kennedy

    (Pictured: The Kennedy family at the Princes Gate Home in London, March 16, 1938. From left to right: Kathleen, Edward, Joseph Kennedy, wife Rose Kennedy, Patricia, Jean, and Robert.

    Keystone/Getty Images

    As we express our gratitude,

    we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.—John F. Kennedy

    (Pictured: Joseph Kennedy (center), then U.S. Ambassador to Britain, poses with two of his sons, John F. Kennedy (l) and Joseph Kennedy, Jr. (r), in London, 1937.)

    Keystone/Getty Images

    Let every nation know,

    whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.—John F. Kennedy

    (Pictured: Then-Senator John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, about to leave New York for the Los Angeles Democratic Party Convention, 1960.)

    Keystone/Getty Images

    Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process,

    gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.—John F. Kennedy

    (Pictured: President John F. Kennedy (l) at the White House with his brother, Robert (r), and the head of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover (center), February 28, 1961.)

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    Your Comments

    • Twitch

      Well at least they didn’t include the “ask not…” quote; Kennedy stole that from Warren Harding.

    • Kate

      Great article! Still inspirational half century on!

    • Brettonpoint60

      Drunks and addicts all!