Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

John F. Kennedy

In the life of this great nation, a few of its presidents have emerged from the pack as truly historic and memorable even more than others. Of course, the presidents from the generation of the founding fathers certainly fit that bill including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. And presidents that served the country in times of great crisis also are deeply honored in memory. But in recent memory, there probably no other president that brings up emotions of respect and admiration as much as that of John F. Kennedy.

Kennedy seemed to capture the hearts of the American people in a way that was unique in presidents before or since. Part of it may have been the era in history that the country was in when he became the President of the United States. The historic time between 1950 and 1970 was a time when the largest generation of youth, now known as the “baby boomers”, was coming of age. With them a new youth movement brought a sense of optimism, a “can do” attitude and to some extent a sense of revolution. They were looking for new ways of seeing things, a new vision of the future and new leadership and John F. Kennedy was the perfect man of the hour to provide that leadership.

So much about Kennedy’s presidency has an aura of romance and almost a fairy tale excitement of it. From the naming of his family estates “Camelot” to the love affair that the public had with the strikingly beautiful presidential couple, Jack and Jacqueline Kennedy. That touch of magic extended to everything he did and virtually everybody in his family including his younger brother Robert who was idolized as well and almost certainly would have served as president had he not been tragically assassinated during his early bid for that office.

But this was not to say that Kennedy was not a phenomenal leader. He faced serious challenges. The Cuban Missile Crisis may have been one of the most frightening show downs between a nuclear Russia and a nuclear America that has ever happened in history. When it became clear that Russia was beginning to build bases in Cuba and arm them with those terrible weapons, this was no time for a weak president. Had Russia been able to bully Kennedy or intimidate the young president and put those missiles in Cuba, it seems certain that the outcome of the cold war would have been one of failure rather than success. But Kennedy was not bullied or intimidated and using the power of his office, Kennedy stood his ground and stood ground for all Americans and forced the Russians to remove those missiles.

But this was not the only great accomplishment of Kennedy’s administration. It took a leader who had great vision and ability to inspire a nation as nobody else than John F. Kennedy could to set the sights of the nation on landing on the moon. But Kennedy put that desire and that high calling in the hearts of his people and the nation rallied to finally see that man step out on the moon and declare, “This is one step for man, a giant leap for mankind.” That was one of the proudest days in American history and it was Kennedy who inspired us to that kind of greatness.

As much as the life and leadership of John F. Kennedy perfectly exemplified the optimism and youthful zeal of a generation, his tragic assignation changed the country forever as well. On that sad day of November 22, 1963 when Lee Harvey Oswald gunned down America’s beloved president, the hearts of Americans changed forever.

This was one of those days that almost everybody who was alive at the time, from school children to grandfathers remembered where they were when they heard the news. Since we laid to rest this great leader, the presidency itself has never been the same. While Americans will always respect their presidents, that sense of adoration for the man in the White House disappeared forever. But the thing that did not disappear was the ongoing adoration of the man, John F. Kennedy, who inspired a generation and a nation to look forward to greatness and in the famous words of his inaugural address in 1961…

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Targenor - 15 mars 2011 at 12:00

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Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln
We would like to think all of our presidents of the United States were truly great men and to be sure, just handling the awesome responsibility of the presidency takes a special kind of individual. One of the unique and great things about the system of government in America is the concept of citizen leadership. This is the idea of an ordinary citizen rising up and becoming president for a while and then returning to private life.

But of the handful of men who have held that office, a few have stood out for their great achievements and leadership in a time that changed the country for ever. And one of these truly great presidents was Abraham Lincoln. Probably more than any other president, Lincoln had to handle an internal civil war that was far more than shouting and name calling. This was a dispute that could have torn the country in half and starting a rupturing that could have resulted in dozens of small weak independent states instead of the powerful nation we know as America today.

It was Lincoln’s leadership, his commitment to values and his strong moral fiber that made it possible for America to find its way through that war and then to begin the healing process that would eventually lead the nation back to unity once again. Lincoln’s term of service from 1860 until his death was one of considerable challenge. If he only had the problem of dealing with the attempt by the south to succeed from the union and his ability to keep those states as part of the American national territory, he would be lauded as a great American indeed.

One of the little known leadership styles that Lincoln used to his advantage in the organization of his presidency was his appointment of talented national figures from opposing political parties to be part of his cabinet. Lincoln felt that he needed to have close advisors from the opposing viewpoint to keep from having his presidency become insulated from the American people and one sided. By gathering members of the “loyal opposition” into his trusted inner circle, Lincoln was always aware of both sides of every issue which made him a stronger leader.

But that is not even his greatest accomplishment or the one that we remember him for the most. His bold and unchanging opposition to slavery is without any doubt his greatest contribution to the history of America and indeed to world history as well. When he was willing to put everything on the line to stop this barbaric social sin, Lincoln made a stand, against the popular opinion of the time in many cases that he would be the figure to bring slavery to an end.

It was not a stand that came without cost. The civil war was one of the bloodiest and costliest in the nation’s history if for no other reason than all casualties; on both sides were casualties of America. It would take many decades for the ravages of that horrible war to be repaired. The schism between north and south continued for decades and is still a part of our national personality in this country.

But the end result was what Lincoln wanted to be his legacy. By issuing the Emancipation Proclamation to make the end of slavery permanent, Lincoln followed that up with the passing of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments which made permanent the freedoms that were hard fought and won in the Civil War.

The freedom that was won for so many black Americans in that war permanently enshrined the memory of Abraham Lincoln as one of our greatest presidents in the hearts and minds of all Americans. Small wonder the monument honoring him on Washington’s national mall is one of the most revered spots in the nation and one that thousands flock to each year to give respect for this great president that made liberty and freedom a reality for all Americans, not just a few. And his face on Mount Rushmore is well deserved so the very mountain itself shouts out, this is one of the greatest leaders in the history of this great country.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Targenor - 14 mars 2011 at 12:00

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