50 years later does JFK's Tabernacle speech still resonate? (+photos)
"We find ourselves entangled with apparently unanswerable problems in unpronounceable places. We discover that our enemy in one decade is our ally the next. We find ourselves committed to governments whose actions we cannot often approve, assisting societies with principles very different from our own," Kennedy said.
But he said it would be folly to abandon America's influence in the world because it would invite communist expansion. Without the United States "the chances of freedom surviving, let alone thriving around the globe, are nonexistent."
The longest of six ovations he received from the overflow Tabernacle crowd came when Kennedy mentioned the nuclear test ban treaty the U.S., Soviet Union and other nations signed in the summer of 1963, calling it "one chance to end the radiation and possibilities of burning."
Kennedy said in the speech that he knew many Americans wondered why the United States was involved in so many countries around the world, and used Mormon pioneers as an example of pushing on against all odds.
"If our task on occasion seems hopeless, if we despair of ever working our will on the other 94 percent of the world's population, then let us remember the Mormons of a century ago were a persecuted and prosecuted minority, harried from place to place, the victims of violence and occasionally murder, while today, in the short space of 100 years, their faith and works are known and respected the world around, and their voices heard in the highest councils of this country," he said.
"As the Mormons succeeded, so America can succeed, if we will not give up or turn back."
Kennedy closed his speech with a phrase from LDS scripture, section 136 of the Doctrine and Covenants, that McConkie had suggested.
"I think the country will continue to its commitment to support the world in freedom, for as we discharge that commitment we are heeding the command which Brigham Young heard from the Lord more than a century ago, the command conveyed to his followers, 'Go as pioneers to a land of peace.'"
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