There is something seriously wrong when Benedict Arnold's good qualities dwarf those of the gentleman from New York.
"Mr. President, have we ever had a President who was financially dishonest?"*
"No, no. We've had Presidents who've had crooked men around them. Grant and Harding and perhaps some others who don't come to mind at the moment. But so far as I know, we have never had one who was himself dishonest. We've been very lucky in that regard, and I just hope our luck holds out." (Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman by Merle Miller, 132)
"...(T)he only way free government works is if the men in charge of it have got the welfare of the people in mind at all times. If a man loses sight of that even for a minute, you don't have free government anymore." (Miller, 134)
On the twenty-ninth, we celebrate a double secular Sabbath, Memorial Day and the birth of the thirty-fifth President of the United States. Throughout his service to the nation, JFK donated his salary to charity. And there has never been a better time to remember his remarks to the Massachusetts Legislature on January 9, 1961.^
HISTORY will not judge our endeavors--and a government cannot be selected--merely on the basis of color or creed or party affiliation. Neither will competence and loyalty and stature, while essential to the utmost, suffice in times such as these.
For of those to whom much is given, much is required. And when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each one of us--recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state--our success or failure, in whatever office we may hold, will be measured by the answers to four questions:
First, were we truly men of courage--with the courage to stand up to one's enemies--and the courage to stand up, when necessary, to one's own associates--the courage to resist public pressure, as well as private greed?
Secondly, were we truly men of judgment--with perceptive judgment of the future as well as the past--of our own mistakes as well as the mistakes of others--with enough wisdom to know what we did not know, and enough candor to admit it?
Third, were truly men of integrity--men who never ran out on either the principles in which they believed or the people who believed in them--men whom neither financial gain nor political ambition could ever divert from the fulfillment of our sacred trust?
Finally, were we truly men of dedication--with an honor mortgaged to no single individual or group, and compromised by no private obligation or aim, but devoted solely to serving the public good and the national interest?*^
Courage--judgment--integrity--dedication--these are...the qualities which, with God's help, this son of Massachusetts hopes will characterize our government's conduct in the four stormy years that lie ahead.
(c)2017 Marvin D. Jones. All rights reserved.