Almost 60 years ago the country was electrified by the visit of President John F. Kennedy to Ireland, and a few years ago we welcomed the Kennedy clan back home for various 50th anniversary Gathering events.
June 11, 1963 may not be a widely recognised date these days, but it is probably the single most important date in civil rights history in the United States and also John F. Kennedy’s finest moment. That day he made a momentous decision. He surprised his staff by calling the three television networks and personally requesting airtime at 8.0pm.
Meanwhile down in Alabama Gov. George Wallace in an effort to block the integration of Afro-Americans into the University of Alabama made his futile “stand at the schoolhouse door.”
Kennedy asked every American that June evening that regardless of where they lived to stop and examine their consciences. He eloquently linked the fate of Afro-American citizenship to the larger question of national identity and citizenship.
“America for all its hopes and all its boasts will not be fully free until all its citizens are free,” he said.
On July 2, 1964, almost a year after Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon Johnson got a strong civil rights bill through Congress. The bill was born the day John F. Kennedy made a decision. The New York Times called this decision on June 11, 1963 “Kennedy’s finest moment.”
In terms of your personal life, what is the decision that you would say is creating your finest moment? Have you made it? Or have you yet to make it?
We are the creative force in our own lives, and through our decisions rather than our conditions and circumstances we can accomplish great goals. But it all comes down to making a decision and following through on that decision with massive and consistent action. Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach to achieving them.
I knew this young man who might be described as happy-go-lucky except he was seriously overweight. He was always threatening to start taking exercise and talking about going on a healthy diet. He used to say to me: “I’ll do it when I get a few things sorted.”
When I met him recently he had changed into a lean, mean, exercising machine. He oozed health, vitality, vigour and strength. He was a new man.
“What happened?” I asked him.
“Well,” he said, “It all began when I went to the doctor. She sent me for a full check-up. I finally did for myself what I’ve been doing for my car for years. I got my personal NCT.
“At every level I was heading for an early appointment with the human scrapheap. They told my I had to change my lifestyle or die, to change my diet and start a serious exercise regime. They also told me that it was entirely up to me.
“I simply made a decision and stuck with it. Then the next time I went for the check-up, I passed my test. It all came down to making that one decision … the best decision I ever made in my life, not only for me, but for my wife and children.”
To decide, really decide means “to cut off” any other possibility of not doing what you say you’ll do. It means to do what you say you’ll do whether you feel like it or not. You’ll do what you say you’ll do long after the inspiring mood that moved you to make the decision in the first place has long passed and evaporated. You’ll still do it. They called a decision he once made on a June day in 1963 “President Kennedy’s finest moment.” So ask not what your body can do for you; rather ask, “what can you do, what decision can you make to get and maintain a fit and healthy body?” Can you make that kind of decision in terms of your health that you will forever recall as your finest fitness moment?