Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Rethinking JFK’s “Ask not…..” | The Merrow Report

Rethinking JFK’s “Ask not…..” | The Merrow Report
Rethinking JFK’s “Ask not…..”

“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”  John F. Kennedy issued that stirring challenge in his inaugural address sixty years ago, in January, 1961.  His words tapped into a wellspring of idealism and inspired many young Americans to join the Peace Corps or get otherwise involved in efforts to ‘improve the world around them.’

Sixty years later, the idea of national service is in the air.  Just over a year ago the non-partisan National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service, which Congress created in 2017, issued its report, “Inspired to Serve,” and on the first Sunday of this month The New York Times devoted its lead editorial to the subject: “A Call to National Service”.  

In addition to reading reports and editorials about national service, I’ve also spoken with a few dozen of its supporters in the past two weeks, and nearly all of them believe that something must be done to pull our badly fractured country together.  National service just might do that, some of them argue cogently and persuasively. And, they say, it must be required because time is running out on our democracy.

That’s the all-important question: Should national service be mandatory? Should every citizen between the ages of 18-30 be required to spend two years in some sort of national service, whether military or otherwise?  

After all, the argument goes, Americans have rights and responsibilities, and shirking CONTINUE READING: Rethinking JFK’s “Ask not…..” | The Merrow Report