Keeping That “Vigor” Alive Today

Kennedy PortraitToday marks John F. Kennedy’s 99th birthday. For those of us “young” enough to remember the vibrant presidency of the youngest man elected president of the United States, it’s hard to imagine what JFK would be like had he lived to be nearly a century old.

His “viga” for life as Vaugh Meader used to parody, is the stuff that drove The New Frontier and challenged us to put a man on the moon; to sign a nuclear arms testing ban; to found a Peace Corps; and to think of ourselves as connected to the rest of the world (Ich bin ein Berliner).

Would do us well to remember the Democratic Party was once led by a call to “think big” and to challenge the edges and not to say “it can’t happen” or “that’s too hard.”

In an oral history interview in 1964, West Virginia political figure W. Walter Neeley observed about JFK:

“Most important, and I think this is psychological, but I think that President Kennedy and his ‘viga,’ as he has been misquoted, and it is vigor where I come from, carried out in his everyday living and his mental thinking, his approach to these problems. He approached them with vigor. He carried them out with vigor and dispatch. And there was not the usual political procrastination on basic issues.”


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