The Thought for the Day – John F Kennedy

Go for the top. If you aim for second you will end up there. John F Kennedy


The 100th anniversary of John Kennedy’s birth passed recently. We couldn’t be bothered to do a Thought for the Day then, so we are doing one now.

While even the most casual reading into Kennedy’s life shows he benefited substantially from an ambitious and wealthy father, he was also a man of substance. A sickly young man, Kennedy nevertheless served his country honorably and heroically in the United States Navy during World War II earning, among other awards, the Purple Heart and the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, awarded for heroism after the torpedo boat he commanded was rammed by a Japanese destroyer.

After a mediocre first year as president, Kennedy’s adroit, patient handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis and his call for his country to put men on the moon before the 1970’s, among other things, have helped make Kennedy a highly ranked president and more than a half-century after he was shot to death in Dallas, Texas, JFK remains a towering figure. For our money, Kennedy was the last president to show any leadership, his successors merely managing the country, and not very well, either.

If you aim for second you will end up there…

Anyone can come in second. Those who reach the summit of a given endeavor do so because they were able to picture the summit and pursue it with diligence and courage. Every field of human endeavor has excellence and rewards that are there for the taking, be it building a chair or writing a column or teaching a classroom of kids or anything else the human mind can dream up.

But we have to aim for it. A marksman isn’t going to hit what he can’t see; his bulls eye is always in front of him.  So it is with us: we are not going to accomplish what we don’t set out to do. Goals that aren’t rightly fixed will not be attained and our bulls eye, like that of the sharpshooter, must be in front of us, no matter how far away. 

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