What would JFK say today?

As the 50th anniversary of JFK’s famous peace speech at American University in June 1963 approaches, the AU School of Communication is sponsoring an undergraduate speechwriting contest to emulate his eloquent example.

“The challenge: Answer the question ‘What would a JFK say Now?’ by writing a commencement speech of no more than 1,500 words outlining what you think a President should say today on any broad world issue.”

The contest is only open to AU undergraduates. The winner receives a $500 prize.

If you can’t enter the contest, you can watch the speech.




  1. Shane McBryde says:

    That speech never gets old. It’s like Kennedy had come to a fork in the road and had chosen the path of peace, but before he could take the first few steps in that direction he was cut down.

    Then, we took a few steps back and headed down the other darker, and more dangerous path.

    It’s also worth noting the polls at that time had begun to show the message of peace carried a great deal more resonance with the American public than anyone had counted on, far more so than the old tried and true sabre rattling, anti-communist message.

  2. For the past ten to fifteen years COPA has held a memorial service at the JFK Monument at the end of the sports field where the speech was delivered. Whoever shows up, usually about a dozen or so people, take turns reading parts of the speech or telling a story about JFK. The first year we even had a mini three hour conference with John Newman and others. Since the students had already left for summer vacation the school gave us some unused dorm rooms for those who wanted to stay overnight. The past few years the service lasts about a half hour to an hour and then we all go to lunch together. I hope it is better attended this year and assurances are made that the event continues into the future.

  3. On the top of the front cover of the new “JFK and the Unspeakable” is a new tag line: “He chose peace. They marked him for death.”


    I should hasten to add the Kennedys were not at peace in the fall of 1963 with Vice President Lyndon Johnson. They were at war on were on the verge of personally destroying LBJ.

    And as I always say, I think Cuba policy was a much bigger reason for the JFK assassination than Vietnam. Ultimately, the murderers of JFK had a laundry list of things they hated about him. A “bill of particulars,” if you will. Not invading Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis was a big one.

    • Shane McBryde says:

      I came across this bit of audio on the John F. Kennedy Library website. It’s a recording of JFK dictating memos to various staff members, and at the end he dictates a memo to himself to the effect that he wants to explore reorganizing the transition process from one administration to the next.

      He suggests that incoming cabinet members such as the Secretary of Defense should serve alongside their outgoing counterpart for a period of about two months. He makes the point that having the new defense secretary start off cold is a bad way to go because it takes at least 2 or 3 months for the guy to get up to speed. 

      Kennedy then says this was why his administration was caught so off guard by the Bay of Pigs. Fascinating because it’s telling that he really did feel he had been blindsided by that operation.


  4. mitchum22 says:

    A better link to this deeply moving speech:


  5. Jason L. says:

    John – if Newman’s book “JFK and Vietnam” won’t convince you, then check out “Virtual JFK” either in book or DVD format. The idea that JFK would have pulled out of Vietnam by the end of 1965 is a mainstream view now in History circles. It probably will continue to be a minority view until the crusty cold warriors die off, but it has been established as a fact beyond any reasonable doubt, in my opinion.

    What’s interesting is that it has been known for a long time. I watched the movie “Executive Decision” from 1973 the other night, and that movie made reference to it. It’s just another link in the long chain of the denial of this deep state secret.

  6. Alan Dale says:

    ^ Executive Action. Good post, Jason. That film is a mile marker showing where some of us were at that point on the road from Dallas. I’m sure it helped elevate public awareness which then exploded with Geraldo Rivera’s broadcast of the Zapruder film for the first time on network television.

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