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Men of Courage

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Good Day.... Those of you who have been aboard the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy

aircraft-carrier (a.k.a. "Big John") have seen that just about everywhere you walk

there are pictures, plaques, and words honoring, and celebrating, the life of our


There is a large concentration of such memorabilia located among the two main

galley areas for the enlisted men. They have been hung on dozens of

free-standing, 6' high, mobile, wall-partitions (the color of "Air Force One"

blue) within the galleys' perimeters.

With my job responsibilities and duties, I daily interacted with the Commanding

Officer of "Big John." The Captain's "in-port cabin" is something that everyone

who has a chance to see, should see, now that the ship is homeported in

Mayport, FL. Used primarily for meetings/meals with the Captain's

chain-of-command, and domestic and foreign dignitaries and honored guests, his

in-port cabin contains four areas, one of which is a main livingroom area.

There were four items in the C.O.'s cabin that have always, vividly, stood out

in my memory.... Hanging on each of three adjoining livingroom walls was a very

large (about 10' by 5') painting. Each of these colorful, realistic paintings

showed the daylight shoreline, buildings skyline, and shipping docks of a

coastal city (Boston?) circa 1700's, complete with harbor anchored and

embarking sailing ships. The paintings gave the magnificent effect of your

being on a similar ship, in that ocean harbor, and you are looking out the back

windows from the Captain's cabin of such an American Revolutionary-era sailing


The fourth item, the one that had a huge effect on me, and, I am sure, many

others through the decades, is an exact replica of President KENNEDY's, White

House oval-office, padded rocking chair that was given by the KENNEDY family in

1967 when the ship was first commissioned by CAROLINE. I cannot even begin to

describe the thoughts and feelings of sitting in that rocker.

Nestled among the many pictures, plaques, etc., for the men of the U.S.S.

Kennedy is a plaque of one of the President's speeches.... we all call it the

"Men of Courage" speech ....it simply reads:

"Of those whom much is given, much is required. And when at some future date

the high court of history sits in judgment on each 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 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 associates, the

courage to resist public pressure as well as private greed?

Second, 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 we truly men of integrity, men who never ran out on either the

principles in which we believed or the people who believed in us, 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 not to a

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. Humbly I ask His

help in this undertaking; but aware that on earth His will is worked by men, I

ask for your help and your prayers as I embark on this new and solemn journey."

-President-elect JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY, 09JAN61, Massachusetts

I swear, there are ultra-busy days on the ship where you will be

completely-motivated, and dashing somewhere to accomplish an important job, and

out of the corner of your eye, for a fleeting moment, you swear you saw a young

Lt., KENNEDY-esque thin in silhouette, confidently climbing into a jet-fighter,

submarine-hunter "Viking," light-bomber jet, or electronics-warefare jet....

or....sometimes, half way through a slow, quiet, midnight-to-4 watch-duty, as

you walk down a straight corridor containing a "mirror" of a hundred-plus,

lined-up, open bulkheads hatches, you gaze well ahead, and can see, for a

not-long-enough, deja-vu instant, a suit-coated man, slightly hunched over,

making his way towards the same coffee machine as yourself. It is a remarkable

ship, that everyone should, and can, be proud of.

Here is a scan of the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy ship's seal from my flight suit:



CV-67, "Big John," USS John F. Kennedy Plank Walker

Sooner, or later, the Truth emerges Clearly





T ogether

E veryone

A chieves

M ore

"We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let

the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the

torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans--born in this century,

tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient

heritage--and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human

rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are

committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any

price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe

to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge--and more."

----President JOHN F. KENNEDY, during his Presidential innaugural speech,


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