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The Power of Citizenship

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The Power of Citizenship

Why John F. Kennedy Matters to a New Generation


15 min read
10 take-aways
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The legacy of President John F. Kennedy endures because he encouraged Americans to act.

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A half-century after his death, John F. Kennedy is still fascinating, perhaps due to his youth, glamour, and too-early, tragic death, as well as the way he governed. Author Scott D. Reich believes that JFK’s lasting legacy is his concept of citizenship. Reich explains how Kennedy’s devotion to the idea of a connected society and of Americans’ responsibilities toward one another influenced his actions in a broad range of public-policy decisions – in many areas, such as foreign affairs, space exploration, civil rights and his promotion of the arts. Reich urges today’s “new generation of Americans” to pick up the torch. He demonstrates that JFK’s exhortations are timeless and offers thoughtful suggestions for incorporating citizenship into your daily life. getAbstract recommends his advice to any American seeking to make his or her country better and to citizens worldwide who want to lift their nations by stoking a new fire to light the world.


Don’t Let It Be Forgot

For 50 years, America has remembered the presidency of John F. Kennedy as Camelot – a time of hope, optimism and confidence in the country’s abilities to solve problems. Kennedy made an indelible impression in part because of television. Americans felt he was speaking to them directly. His assassination on November 22, 1963 brought the country together in mourning. During his brief three years in office, the young, vigorous president exemplified and promoted his personal concept of citizenship and explained why it was critical to creating a great nation.

A prime demonstration of JFK’s notion of citizenship lives within the character Atticus Finch from the novel To Kill a Mockingbird and the subsequent film. In Depression-era Alabama, attorney Finch agrees to defend an African-American man wrongly accused of rape, even though taking the case will endanger Finch’s career and his family. Committed to “the public good” rather than to “self-interest,” he accepts a difficult duty that contributes to the moral advancement of his community. Finch believes his work is “morally justified.” In defining citizenship, Kennedy, too, agreed the law ...

About the Author

Scott D. Reich is a lawyer and historian who is active in pro bono legal assistance, support of the arts and other causes.

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