On January 20, 1961, slightly over 57 years ago, a young president stood on the Capital steps and said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” That call set forth a tidal wave of young people from across the nation, from divergent communities and ideologies, to see public service as a legitimate and even preferable option for their future.
Many of those young people are now in their late 60s and early 70s, many served this nation in Viet Nam, in Congress and at the local level. They still hear that call and because of it have a deep and undying love for this nation.
I was privileged to work with some of these people, one was United States Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. He told me how he felt when he heard those words and he served the United States in the military and then in the US House and Senate. President Kennedy left a mark on the youth of our nation and on people around the world. His picture hung in homes across the planet, he was a symbol of hope a symbol of the dynamic promise America offered the world.
In those short 1,000 days of the Kennedy administration, the Peace Corps was started, we laid the groundwork to land a man on the moon, laws were developed to fight segregation, and nothing seemed impossible. Even the youngest amongst us were captivated by the energy and promise.
Although no single leader, at the moment, has mobilized tens of millions of Americans through a call to action, the 2016 election has woken people up, making them aware that each and everyone of us has a responsibility to our nation and our fellow citizens. We cannot simply ask or demand more of government than what we are willing to do ourselves. We cannot expect solutions to problems without being willing to sacrifice and compromise to make dreams into realities.
With 184 days to go before election day 2018 (November 7th), what can you do for your community, what can you do to inspire, energize, imagine, putting our towns, cities and villages on a path to energy independence, healthcare for all, education preparing us for a fast-changing world and giving all who live here renewed faith in the fundamental values of what makes us New Yorkers and Americans? If each of us answered that question, we would once again be building a nation that put a man on the moon, desegregated our universities and offered hope and promise to the world around us. Something worth aspiring to.
NYS Senate Democrat Candidate Robert Kesten
Vision With Action Can Change The World.