147+ Best John F. Kennedy Quotes: Exclusive Selection

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, often referred to by the initials JFK and Jack, was an American politician who served as the 35th president of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. Profoundly inspirational John F. Kennedy quotes on greatness, courage, country, education, and change will challenge the way you think.

Famous John F. Kennedy Quotes

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

Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names. – John F. Kennedy

The Republican Party can lead any person to believe that their promises will be fulfilled in the future. They follow the Hitler line – no matter how big the lie; repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as truth. – John F. Kennedy

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. – John F. Kennedy

Let’s talk to one another instead of about one another. – John F. Kennedy

Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others. – John F. Kennedy

The best road to progress is freedom’s road. – John F. Kennedy

First, what does truth require? It requires us to face the facts as they are, not to involve ourselves in self-deception; to refuse to think merely in slogans. If we are to work for the future of the city, let us deal with the realities as they actually are, not as they might have been, and not as we wish they were. – John F. Kennedy

The complacent, the self-indulgent, the soft societies are about to be swept away with the debris of history. Only the strong, only the industrious, only the determined, only the courageous, only the visionary who determine the real nature of our struggle can possibly survive. – John F. Kennedy

Never let your fears hold you back from pursuing your hopes. – John F. Kennedy

Ask not that the journey be easy; ask instead that it be worth it. – John F. Kennedy

In a time of turbulence and change, it is more true than ever that knowledge is power. – John F. Kennedy

Too often we… enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. – John F. Kennedy

Israel was not created in order to disappear – Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom. – John F. Kennedy

Whatever one’s religion in his private life may be, for the officeholder, nothing takes precedence over his oath to uphold the Constitution and all its parts – including the First Amendment and the strict separation of church and state. – John F. Kennedy

A revolution is coming – a revolution which will be peaceful if we are wise enough; compassionate if we care enough; successful if we are fortunate enough – but a revolution which is coming whether we will it or not. We can affect its character; we cannot alter its inevitability. – John F. Kennedy

This is not a time to keep the facts from the people-to keep them complacent. To sound the alarm is not to panic but to seek action from an aroused public. For, as the poet Dante once said: ‘The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a time of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality. – John F. Kennedy

Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate. – John F. Kennedy

when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office; and I hope any conscientious public servant would do the same. – John F. Kennedy

Now the trumpet summons us again – not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are; but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, ‘rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation’, a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself. – John F. Kennedy

Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal. – John F. Kennedy

A boy spends his time finding a girl to sleep with. A real man spends his time looking for the one worth waking up to. – John F. Kennedy

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 am not asking your newspapers to support the 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. – John F. Kennedy

It is in the American tradition to stand up for one’s rights–even if the new way to stand up for one’s rights is to sit down. – John F. Kennedy

Political action is the highest responsibility of a citizen. – John F. Kennedy

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

The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God. – John F. Kennedy

To those whom much is given, much is expected. – John F. Kennedy

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty, and all forms of human life. – John F. Kennedy

Justice delayed is democracy denied. – John F. Kennedy

Things do not happen. Things are made to happen. – John F. Kennedy

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

Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind. – John F. Kennedy

The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened. – John F. Kennedy

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

The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. – John F. Kennedy

The problems with this world cannot possibly be solved by sceptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need people who can dream of things that never were. – John F. Kennedy

If we are strong, our strength will speak for itself. If we are weak, words will be of no help. – John F. Kennedy

There is little value in insuring 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 seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. – John F. Kennedy

I would rather be accused of breaking precedents than breaking promises. – John F. Kennedy

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. – John F. Kennedy

A tax cut means higher family income and higher business profits and a balanced federal budget. – John F. Kennedy

Sometimes party loyalty asks too much. – John F. Kennedy

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

A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all. – John F. Kennedy

Those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside – John F. Kennedy

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

So let us begin anew — remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate. Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us. – John F. Kennedy

So, let us not be blind to our differences – but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. – John F. Kennedy

Those who do nothing are inviting shame as well as violence. Those who act boldly are recognizing right as well as reality. – John F. Kennedy

The state is the servant of the citizen, and not his master. – John F. Kennedy

Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth. – John F. Kennedy

One person can make a difference, and everyone should try. – John F. Kennedy

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. – John F. Kennedy

No responsibility of government is more fundamental than the responsibility of maintaining the highest standard of ethical behavior for those who conduct the public business. – John F. Kennedy

By calling attention to ‘a well-regulated militia,’ ‘the security of the nation,’ and the right of each citizen ‘to keep and bear arms,’ our founding fathers recognized the essentially civilian nature of our economy… The Second Amendment still remains an important declaration of our basic civilian-military relationships in which every citizen must be ready to participate in the defense of his country. For that reason, I believe the Second Amendment will always be important. – John F. Kennedy

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

Democracy may not be perfect, but at least I don’t have to build a wall to keep my people in. – John F. Kennedy

Don’t pray for an easy life, pray to be a stronger man. – John F. Kennedy

My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. – John F. Kennedy

There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction. – John F. Kennedy

Only an educated and informed people will be a free people. – John F. Kennedy

I will splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds. – John F. Kennedy

Hold fast to the best of the past and move fast to the best of the future. – John F. Kennedy

Our task is not to fix blame for the past, but to fix the course for the future. – John F. Kennedy

Today, we need a nation of Minutemen, citizens who are not only prepared to take arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as the basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom. – John F. Kennedy

Economic growth without social progress lets the great majority of the people remain in poverty, while a privileged few reap the benefits of rising abundance. – John F. Kennedy

There can be no progress if people have no faith in tomorrow. – John F. Kennedy

We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future. – John F. Kennedy

So long as freedom from hunger is only half achieved, so long as two thirds of the nations have food deficits, no citizen, no nation can afford to be satisfied. We have the ability, as members of the human race, we have the means, we have the capacity to eliminate hunger from the face of the earth in our lifetime. We only need the will. – John F. Kennedy

We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives. – John F. Kennedy

The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all. – John F. Kennedy

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

Man is still the most extraordinary computer of all. – John F. Kennedy

A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on. – John F. Kennedy

If you want to truly understand something, try to change it. – John F. Kennedy

Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. – John F. Kennedy

We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came. – John F. Kennedy

The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission. – John F. Kennedy

The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth. – John F. Kennedy

When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. – John F. Kennedy

Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce. – John F. Kennedy

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

I look forward to a great future for America – a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose. – John F. Kennedy

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

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

I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for President, who happens also to be a Catholic. – John F. Kennedy

My brother Bob doesn’t want to be in government – he promised Dad he’d go straight. – John F. Kennedy

Sure, it’s a big job; but I don’t know anyone who can do it better than I can. – John F. Kennedy

Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource. – John F. Kennedy

I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for president who happens also to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my church on public matters – and the church does not speak for me. – John F. Kennedy

Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners, and necessity has made us allies. Those whom God has so joined together, let no man put asunder. – John F. Kennedy

The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were. – John F. Kennedy

Mothers all want their sons to grow up to be president, but they don’t want them to become politicians in the process. – John F. Kennedy

All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin. And therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words ‘Ich bin ein Berliner!’ – John F. Kennedy

When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity. – John F. Kennedy

The world knows that America will never start a war. This generation of Americans has had enough of war and hate… we want to build a world of peace where the weak are secure and the strong are just. – John F. Kennedy

War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today. – John F. Kennedy

Communism has never come to power in a country that was not disrupted by war or corruption, or both. – John F. Kennedy

I just received the following wire from my generous Daddy; Dear Jack, don’t buy a single vote more than is necessary. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide. – John F. Kennedy

Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures. – John F. Kennedy

Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan. – John F. Kennedy

For time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future. – John F. Kennedy

I don’t think the intelligence reports are all that hot. Some days I get more out of the New York Times. – John F. Kennedy

Why should man’s first flight to the moon be a matter of national competition? Why should the United States and the Soviet Union, in preparing for such expeditions, become involved in immense duplications of research, construction and expenditure? – John F. Kennedy

There is always inequality in life. Some men are killed in a war and some men are wounded and some men never leave the country. Life is unfair. – John F. Kennedy

Our problems are man-made; therefore they may be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. – John F. Kennedy

Modern cynics and skeptics… see no harm in paying those to whom they entrust the minds of their children a smaller wage than is paid to those to whom they entrust the care of their plumbing. – John F. Kennedy

I’m always rather nervous about how you talk about women who are active in politics, whether they want to be talked about as women or as politicians. – John F. Kennedy

We cannot expect that all nations will adopt like systems, for conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth. – John F. Kennedy

If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. – John F. Kennedy

In a time of domestic crisis, men of goodwill and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics. – John F. Kennedy

Once you say you’re going to settle for second, that’s what happens to you in life. – John F. Kennedy

A man does what he must – in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality. – John F. Kennedy

To state the facts frankly is not to despair the future nor indict the past. The prudent heir takes careful inventory of his legacies and gives a faithful accounting to those whom he owes an obligation of trust. – John F. Kennedy

The greater our knowledge increases the more our ignorance unfolds. – John F. Kennedy

The pay is good, and I can walk to work. – John F. Kennedy

The path we have chosen for the present is full of hazards, as all paths are. The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission. – John F. Kennedy

We would like to live as we once lived, but history will not permit it. – John F. Kennedy

We prefer world law in the age of self-determination to world war in the age of mass extermination. – John F. Kennedy

We stand today on the edge of a new frontier – the frontier of the 1960’s – a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils – a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats. – John F. Kennedy

When we got into office, the thing that surprised me most was to find that things were just as bad as we’d been saying they were. – John F. Kennedy

Domestic policy can only defeat us; foreign policy can kill us. – 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

If anyone is crazy enough to want to kill a president of the United States, he can do it. All he must be prepared to do is give his life for the president’s. – John F. Kennedy

The tax on capital gains directly affects investment decisions, the mobility and flow of risk capital… the ease or difficulty experienced by new ventures in obtaining capital, and thereby the strength and potential for growth in the economy. – John F. Kennedy

I think ‘Hail to the Chief’ has a nice ring to it. – John F. Kennedy

I hope that no American will waste his franchise and throw away his vote by voting either for me or against me solely on account of my religious affiliation. It is not relevant. – John F. Kennedy

In a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there. – John F. Kennedy

It is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war. – John F. Kennedy

The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining. – John F. Kennedy

The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of a final moment; but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy. – John F. Kennedy

A young man who does not have what it takes to perform military service is not likely to have what it takes to make a living. Today’s military rejects include tomorrow’s hard-core unemployed. – John F. Kennedy

We must use time as a tool, not as a couch. – John F. Kennedy

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it. – John F. Kennedy

For in the final analysis, 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 futures. And we are all mortal. – John F. Kennedy

Now we have a problem in making our power credible, and Vietnam is the place. – John F. Kennedy

Do you realize the responsibility I carry? I’m the only person standing between Richard Nixon and the White House. – John F. Kennedy

I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris, and I have enjoyed it. – John F. Kennedy

Unconditional war can no longer lead to unconditional victory. It can no longer serve to settle disputes. It can no longer concern the Great Powers alone. For a nuclear disaster, spread by wind and water and fear, could well engulf the great and the small, the rich and the poor, the committed and the uncommitted alike. Mankind must put an end to war–or war will put an end to mankind. – John F. Kennedy

The basic problems facing the world today are not susceptible to a military solution. – John F. Kennedy

No one has been barred on account of his race from fighting or dying for America, there are no white or colored signs on the foxholes or graveyards of battle. – John F. Kennedy

Khrushchev reminds me of the tiger hunter who has picked a place on the wall to hang the tiger’s skin long before he has caught the tiger. This tiger has other ideas. – John F. Kennedy

Politics is like football; if you see daylight, go through the hole. – John F. Kennedy

A nation which has forgotten the quality of courage which in the past has been brought to public life is not as likely to insist upon or regard that quality in its chosen leaders today – and in fact we have forgotten. – John F. Kennedy

We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world or to make it the last. – John F. Kennedy

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. – John F. Kennedy

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