Today is the 245th Anniversary of the United States Navy. Here’s a Picture Book Salute to John F. Kennedy and Perhaps the Service That Shaped His Life. GO NAVY!

Age: 5-8 Theme: President's Day

10.13.20 • 10:00 am EDT | 0 responses |

On October 13, 1775, a resolution of the Continental Congress established what is now the United States Navy.

After the American War of Independence, the U.S. Constitution empowered the new Congress “to provide and maintain a navy.”

Acting on this authority, Congress established the Department of the Navy on April 30, 1798.  In 1972, Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, authorized October 13th as the birthday of the U.S. Navy. 

                                                        Naval History and Heritage Command

This January, 2021, it will be some sixty years that have passed since John F. Kennedy’s ringing Inaugural Address fell on the ears of a generation and the call to shed self-involvement and embrace service. 1,364 words delivered in 13 minutes and 59 seconds that changed an entire generation’s sensibilities, including the famous quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” I was in the eighth grade at this time. It was the first time I had ever became interested in candidates, voting, or our government. On Election Day,  I babysat at the local polling place. It was an exciting time of possibilities and everyone wanted to be a part of the process.

Perhaps a new generation of children needs to be introduced or reintroduced to those words in that speech.

Viking Children’s Books, to that end, has a superb series, “Words that Changed America. John F. Kennedy – The Inaugural Address” is included in that series. It has a forthright, personal, and moving introduction by Caroline Kennedy. Parents, and certainly grandparents, remember clearly the anticipation, the elegance of phrase, and the challenging tone prevalent in Kennedy’s speech.

Our children today perhaps need a gentle reminder of the nobility of service to others. This speech and its giver roused a generation to serve in the Peace Corps and championed the notion of becoming involved in government service. Also included in the book are:


  • Robert Frost’s poem about the history of America called “The Gift Outright.” This was given on the podium that frosty snow-covered morning in January 1961.
  • An essay entitled “This was America 1960” by award-winning author Elizabeth Partridge.
  • The Commencement Address at American University (excerpts), June 10,1963.
  • Report to the American People on Civil Rights (excerpts), June 11,1963.

President Kennedy’s address spoke as a trumpet summoning citizens to “struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.” That struggle continues 60 years after those words were uttered, and it is well for our children to hear that call again, and remember it in 2020.

And so, also, to my father, Walter P. Hart, Sr., my brothers Walt and Val, who also served in the United States Navy, Happy Anniversary!


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