John F. Kennedy (1917–1963)

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Those who have heard my presentation about Odd Nansen know that what first captured my attention about his diary was his sheer eloquence.  I appreciate good writing, especially writing employed in the service of noble thoughts.

So on the anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death, I wanted to share some particularly eloquent remarks Kennedy made almost exactly one year prior to his assassination, remarks which in turn bring to mind Odd Nansen, and Nansen’s unique contribution to the human spirit:

“Aeschylus and Plato are remembered today long after the triumphs of imperial Athens are gone.  Dante outlived the ambitions of 13th century Florence.  Goethe stands serenely above the politics of Germany, and I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for our victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.”

Remarks on behalf of the National Cultural Center, November 29, 1962.

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