Unit on JFK Inagural Address

There is a group of retired folks who have an English circle once a month. They invited me to come along, because their regular teacher was in the hospital. They asked me to read parts of JFK’s Inaugural Address, a bit of Americana that many Japanese people know of.

I hadn’t read that for years, and then only in bits and pieces. It isn’t really very long. My guess is that I could have read it aloud in about 20 minutes. What I was impressed by was the general mood of the country has changed since that time. There is a certain danger in looking back on events with that “good ole days” mentality, but I think the world view in this particular speech is significantly different from America’s present view. Take this quote for example.

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.

The current administration talks about being called to battle, about being embattled, and a struggle that will last “year in and year out,” but the struggle is so very different. We accept tyranny, poverty and disease, even within the boundries of our country, while extolling the need to wage war against the weak and the poor based on lies and disinformation for the purpose of lining the pockets of the already rich and wealthy.

The students there all agreed that the US is behaving horribly, but also admitted that their own government wasn’t much better, following America around like a little dog.

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