To set the tone, President Kennedy began his address by congratulating the newly elected President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Dr. Carlos Sosa Rodriguez, and acknowledging that since he last spoke before the General Assembly in 1961 the UN had become a stronger organization; that it had overcome the loss of its president, Dag Hammarskjold; that it had overcome financial problems; and that it had made strides toward peace and unity. He reminded the General Assembly of its dark days two years earlier when a “shadow of fear lay darkly across the world”2.
1. "John F. Kennedy: Address Before the 18th General Assembly of the United Nations." John F. Kennedy: Address Before the 18th General Assembly of the United Nations. Accessed November 21, 2014. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=9416. 2. Ibid.
By using phrases from his original speech, like “immediate peril”, “under fire”, “remote” and “in doubt”3, Kennedy reminds the audience of the severity and urgency of the situation they had been in. He then contrasts the dark time with the current state of the UN, “the clouds have lifted a little”, “rays of hope”, “unity”, “rising hope”, and “moment of comparative calm”4. He states that he is addressing the United Nations “not as a sign of crisis, but of confidence”5. He assures the world that the United States salutes and supports the work of the United Nations.
After building confidence and reassuring that he and America truly want peace, President Kennedy called upon all nations, specifically the Soviet Union, to continue to collaborate to build upon their progress over the past two years. He urged the UN to keep up the momentum of peace achievements, and indicated that the nuclear test ban is only one milestone to obtaining world peace. To ensure a lasting peace, Kennedy recognized that the United States needed to remain vigilant in relations with the Soviet Union and that both countries, as super powers, needed to lead the way. He addressed the leaders of the Soviet Union directly and acknowledged their ideological differences, but suggested that in order to maintain safety and security for both nations, they would need to change their focus from building weapons to a focus on “that better weapon…peaceful cooperation”6. President Kennedy pointed out that the United States and the Soviet Union both had a responsibility to the world to work out their differences instead of 3. "1961-9-25 JFK Address at UN General Assembly." JFK Address at U.N. General Assembly, 25 September 1961. Accessed November 21, 2014. http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/DOPIN64xJUGRKgdHJ9NfgQ.aspx. 4. "John F. Kennedy: Address Before the 18th General Assembly of the United Nations." John F. Kennedy: Address Before the 18th General Assembly of the United Nations. Accessed November 21, 2014. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=9416. 5. Ibid. 6. Ibid.