Have you learned the lessons only of those who admired you, and were tender with you, and stood aside for you? Have you not learned great lessons from those who braced themselves against you, and disputed passage with you?
I admired my father very much… at the age of sixteen. But now I see that he was a brutal and cruel man, – but not without remorse, and that was what tortured us, his alternations.
To be sure, Kennedy did not discount the importance of words in rallying the nation to meet its foreign and domestic challenges. Winston Churchill’s powerful exhortations during World War II set a standard he had long admired. Kennedy was hardly unmindful of how important a great inaugural address could be.
It is true that the poet does not directly address his neighbors; but he does address a great congress of persons who dwell at the back of his mind, a congress of all those who have taught him and whom he has admired; they constitute his ideal audience and his better self.
When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.
I’ve had a good life, and was born to and among people I’ve admired and loved.