Kennedy Memorial


You Hold The Power

The importance and relevance of equal rights and access in voting for all Americans regardless of economics, gender, religion or skin color was an issue of great importance to both Kennedy men.  You can do your part to honor their struggle to educate Americans about the power of one person by voting in your local, county, state and federal elections.

"I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute- where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be a Catholic) how to act and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote- where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference-and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish-where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source-where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials-and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

For, while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew-or a Quaker- or a Unitarian-or a Baptist. It was Virginia's harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that led to Jefferson's statute of religious freedom. Today, I may be the victim-but tomorrow it may be you-until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped apart at a time of great national peril.

Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end- where all men and all churches are treated as equal-where every man has the same right to attend or not to attend the church of his choice- where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind-and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, both the lay and the pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.

That is the kind of America in which I believe. And it represents the kind of Presidency in which I believe-a great office that must be neither humbled by making it the instrument of any religious group, nor tarnished by arbitrarily withholding it, its occupancy from the members of any religious group. I believe in a President whose views on religion are his own private affair, neither imposed upon him by the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office."   John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1960 speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association

"All great questions must be raised by great voices, and the greatest voice is the voice of the people  -- speaking out --in prose, or painting or poetry or music;  -- speaking out -- in homes and halls, streets and farms, courts and cafes - let that voice speak and the stillness you hear will be the gratitude of mankind." Robert F. Kennedy, January 22, 1963 speech in New York City