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  • - I'm Caroline Kennedy.

  • May 29th would be my father's 100th birthday.

  • I've thought about him and missed him every day of my life.

  • But growing up without him was made easier

  • thanks to all the people who kept him in their hearts,

  • who told me that he inspired them to work

  • and fight and believe in a better world.

  • To give something back to this country

  • that has given so much to so many.

  • I remember hiding underneath my father's Oval Office desk

  • when I was little, and sitting on his lap on the Honey Fitz.

  • He would point out the white shark and the purple shark

  • who always followed the boat, although I could never

  • quite see them.

  • He said they especially liked to eat socks,

  • and would have his friends throw their socks overboard,

  • which I loved.

  • President Kennedy inspireda generation

  • that transformed America.

  • They marched for justice, they served in the Peace Corps,

  • in the inner cities, in outer space.

  • His brothers carried on that work, fighting against poverty,

  • violence and war, championing human rights,

  • health care and immigration.

  • As my father said in his inaugural address,

  • this work will not be finished in our lifetime.

  • It's up to us to continue to pass these values on

  • to our children and grandchildren.

  • - One of the defining relationships

  • in my life is with someone I have never met.

  • My grandfather, President John F. Kennedy.

  • It's a little odd to be connected to someone you don't know,

  • especially when everyone else has access to much

  • of the same information about him that you do.

  • Throughout my life, I have been able to connect

  • with my grandfather through the study of history,

  • which I know he loved, both studying his life

  • and studying the eras and patterns that fascinated him.

  • To me, that is where he lives,

  • as a historical figure rooted in the past

  • but also as a person connected to so much

  • of what came after him, through his writings

  • and from the stories my relatives have told me.

  • But while my grandfather had reverence for the past

  • and the lessons it could impart, he also knew

  • that America was a country where change was possible,

  • where we aren't bound solely by tradition

  • if we understand the past with which we are breaking.

  • - I'm inspired by my grandfather's sense of equality,

  • his courage in naming the injustices in American society,

  • and his call for action.

  • His words and his ideals mean so much to me

  • and to the world we live in today.

  • But we are still faced with tremendous inequality

  • and injustice, from voting rights to our

  • criminal justice system and mass incarceration.

  • My grandfather would be proud of how far we've come

  • as a nation since 1963, but he'd have been the first

  • to tell us that we have a long way to go.

  • I hope everyone, regardless of age or party,

  • will remember what President Kennedy

  • told America decades ago.

  • This nation was founded by men

  • of many nations and backgrounds.

  • It was founded on the principle that all men

  • are created equal, and that the rights of every man

  • are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.

  • - President Kennedy was elected on a platform

  • of challenges and not promises.

  • Not for what he would offer the American people

  • as president, but what he would ask of them.

  • My favorite speech is the one that President Kennedy

  • gave at Rice University, where he makes the case

  • for sending a man to the moon.

  • He said that that challenge was worthwhile not because

  • it would be easy but because it would be so hard.

  • My generation will inherit a complicated world,

  • with countless unsolved problems.

  • Climate change is just one of them,

  • but it's the type of change I think my grandfather

  • would have been energized about and eager to solve.

  • He cared deeply about the environment,

  • about science and technology,

  • and he recognized that only if America leads the world

  • in solving global problems can we make sure

  • that it's done right.

  • From that speech at Rice, and from the space program

  • he helped launch, we can learn a simple

  • but important lesson, great challenges are opportunities,

  • and it is each generation's responsibility

  • to meet those challenges with the same combination

  • of energy, faith and devotion that President Kennedy

  • and his contemporaries displayed decades ago.

  • I know that we're up to the task,

  • but we have to demand action from our leaders,

  • and we have to vote.

  • - As his family, we're so proud of what my father

  • stood for during his life,

  • and how powerful those values remain today.

  • I hope that these reflections on President Kennedy's life

  • and his influence on those of us who share his legacy

  • will encourage people across the United States

  • to look at challenges in their own corner of the world

  • and seek solutions that heal,

  • lift up the forgotten and make a difference

  • in the lives of others.

  • Thanks for watching.

- I'm Caroline Kennedy.

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B1 US kennedy president grandfather father america generation

President Kennedy's family reflects on his 100th birthday

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    Jim posted on 2017/05/30
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