Friday, September 3, 2010

A Passion for Words and Speeches

"A speech can ignite a fire, change men's minds, open their eyes, alter their votes, bring hope to their lives, and, in all these ways, change the world." - Theodore Sorensen 

From the celebrated Pulitzer-winning biography, Profiles in Courage to his  inaugural address that exhorted listeners to "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country", there is no denying that the myth of JFK hung on every written word that he wrote and speech he has delivered.

It is this emphasis on getting his message across that served as grand yet touching vehicle to a leadership quality not unlike that of the late, great, Abraham Lincoln. 

But words are but empty shells in the absence of character enriched by the strong desire to lead and embolden positive change.  Be that as it may, what if you can get that kind of assistance that would enable you to craft and deliver those same messages that is meant to inspire hope and enjoin the people to pursue the very same goals you preach?  

JFK did get that help.  And we owe Ted Sorensen a great deal of thanks and admiration for having been that whilst also fulfilling the part of the faithful friend and lieutenant.

Add me as a fan.

"At about the same time, Senator John F. Kennedy was starting a four-year string of speaking trips around the country to build a following for his 1960 presidential campaign. He was regularly accompanied by Theodore Chaikin Sorensen, an intense young lawyer from Nebraska, and before long there was no telling whose words were whose. “We found in those long plane rides that we enjoyed each other’s company, joking, talking politics and planning his future,” Sorensen writes in his new memoir. When the senator’s voice gave out at one stop, he filled in — and a reporter discovered he had been “reading” Kennedy’s speech from blank pages. "

In his new book, Counselor, Ted Sorensen, adviser and legendary speechwriter for John F. Kennedy, describes the events that shaped the Kennedy years along with his relationship to the President and his family. Sorensen will always be remembered for turning phrases that ignited the imagination of a generation.

On the 15th of July, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy accepted his party’s presidential nomination at the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles. In his remarks, made at a moment of high tension in the cold war, Kennedy asserted that the United States was at “a turning point in history” and called on his listeners to be “pioneers” in a “New Frontier” of “uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus.”

Collaborating with Kennedy on the speech was a thirty-two-year-old aide named Theodore C. Sorensen, to whom Kennedy was known to refer as his “intellectual blood bank.” With Sorensen’s help, Kennedy would earn a reputation as one of American history’s great orators and provide a bold new vision for the nation.

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