Poll: Kennedy speech still important

Jan. 20, 2011 at 11:15 AM
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NEW HAVEN, Conn., Jan. 20 (UPI) -- A majority of Americans still think key themes in President John F. Kennedy's inauguration speech are important 50 years later, a poll says.

A Knights of Columbus-Marist poll said 95 percent of the respondents indicated comments Kennedy made about freedom and service to the country on that cold 1961 day in Washington remain relevant.

The poll focused on Kennedy's statement "We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty," and "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

About 95 percent or more of the poll's respondents said the quotes are either very or somewhat important for the United States. But among Millennials -- those between 18 and 29 -- 20 percent thought they weren't very important or not important at all.

The poll also referred to two other quotations dealing with the role of God in national life. Those quotes were: "Here on earth God's work must truly be our own" and "The rights of man come not from the generosity to the state, but from the hand of God."

Eighty-six percent of respondents said the first quotation was very or somewhat important for the United States and about 85 percent felt the same about the second quotation.

Two-thirds of respondents overall and 82 percent of Millennials think Kennedy was "one of the best presidents in history."

"Fifty years after President John F. Kennedy stirred a nation with these important words, Americans continue to recognize the importance of what he said, of his definition of what it means to be an American," said Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight of Columbus. "President Kennedy reminded us then that we must be at the service of God and country and that message -- as Americans clearly understand -- is still very important to our nation today."

The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic fraternal organization. Kennedy was the nation's first Roman Catholic president.

The poll of 1,018 adults was conducted Jan. 6-10 and has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

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