Ted Sorensen has given men of all ages a reason to be grateful, or so he told an audience at the Penn Bookstore Wednesday.
When former President John F. Kennedy announced the Cuban Missile Crisis on Oct. 22, 1962, men approached Sorensen — then Kennedy’s special counsel and principal speechwriter — to thank him for helping to pen a speech “so scary, they were able to convince their college sweethearts it was their last night together.”
At the Penn Bookstore, Sorensen kept the audience entertained, providing insight on the Kennedy administration and his personal relationship with the President. The lecture centered primarily around Sorensen’s autobiography, Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History.
Sorensen explained the structure of his book, which is divided into three sections: memory, reason and imagination. In the memory portion, Sorensen focuses on history, while in the reason section he stresses the importance of logic and philosophy in politics today. In the final third of the book — imagination — Sorensen discusses the future.
His speech took a similar structure. He gave a first-person account of the Civil Rights Movement and the Cuban Missile Crisis, among other historical events, describing his time in the Kennedy administration as “the most thrilling years of [his] life.”
Sorensen went on to declare “reason” the “single most important principle to which we pay should homage.” He deplored recent administrations for their disregard for history, urging politicians today to remember the mistakes of the past.
He concluded with a discussion on imagination.
“My parents raised me to think of what this country could be,” he said. “[Kennedy’s] parents raised him the same way. We both agreed the U.S. could be a better society and the world should be a more peaceful place.”
Both students and community members took part in a lengthy question and answer session following the speech. The topics ranged from the Obama Administration to Sorensen’s favorite books as a boy.
Annenberg professor Alvin Felzenberg, one of the event organizers, explained that he believes Sorensen’s words still resonate with students. “[Kennedy and Sorensen’s] speeches have a very contemporary ring to them.” he said.
College junior Andrew Steinmetz echoed this sentiment.
“People take a special interest in the Kennedy Administration because of its similarity to what’s going on now,” he said, referring to the war in Iraq, the recession and other social changes that are taking place today.Comments powered by Disqus
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