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"Ask Not…"


John F. Kennedy Inauguration speech in 1961.
John F. Kennedy Inauguration speech in 1961

When I was just a teenager, John F. Kennedy's inaugural address captivated me, especially the phrase "Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country." It was more than a call to action; it was a rallying cry for national unity and public service. It's the kind of message that resonates with the ethos of leaders like Gandhi, who once said, "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."


Rotary is a cornerstone for humanitarian service since its inception in 1905. Our motto "Service Above Self" isn't just a catchy tagline; it's the essence of who we are.

"Our prime purpose in this life is to help others." Dalai Lama

This is how Rotary members around the world make a difference every day, uniting diverse perspectives and leveraging expertise to address social issues.


During the Cold War, Kennedy's words served as a unifying force, pushing people to rise above their fears (I remember "duck and cover" drills in elementary school) and contribute to the greater good. JFK being a member of the Hyannis Rotary Club makes me think that Rotary's ethos had a part in shaping his perspective on public service.


Both Kennedy's outlook and Rotary's guiding principles share the same tune: the empowerment that comes from serving a cause greater than oneself. These aren't just words on a page; they are the pillars that support a life rich in purpose and meaning.

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Guest
Sep 21, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you Ray! - Mike

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Guest
Sep 21, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Ray, Thank you so much for your weekly e-mails. I always get a lot of good in ideas from them to share.

PDG Greg Horn


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Guest
Sep 21, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you for this post, PDG Ray. One of JFK's signature achievements was the creation of the Peace Corps. Since its creation in 1961, over 240,000 Americans have responded to this enduring challenge. At the 2023 Zone Institute, one of our keynote speeches will be from Carol Spahn, who is Director of the U.S. Peace Corps. She is traveling from Washington, D.C. to meet and discuss how Rotary members continue to make a difference. Learn more and be a part of the conversation at www.zoneinstitute.org.

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