There have been few people, in the history of humankind, who have made such an impact or lasting legacy as has John Fitzgerald Kennedy. John F. Kennedy may or may not have been one of the greatest Presidents the USA has ever had. He was a deeply flawed individual. A study in contradictions, John Kennedy was the son of a wealthy businessman and former ambassador. Always knowing the world of wealth and privilege, John Kennedy, nonetheless, deep empathy for the downtrodden, those who lives society deemed marginalized. In his inaugural address he spoke of the need for all Americans to be active citizens, famously saying, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” He asked the nations of the world to join together to fight what he called the “common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself”. He added: “All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.” In closing, he expanded on his desire for greater internationalism: “Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you.”
The address reflected Kennedy’s confidence that his administration would chart a historically significant course in both domestic policy and foreign affairs. The contrast between this optimistic vision and the pressures of managing daily political realities at home and abroad would be one of the main tensions running through the early years of his administration.
A staunch Catholic, John Kennedy followed the example of his father and had many mistresses. Despite that, he truly loved Jackie and his children and his nephews and nieces.
John Kennedy was an inspiring leader. It is true that others, primarily Ted Sorenson, wrote the speeches, but they could not have invented John Kennedy’s ideas or principles. His speeches would have reflected the person he was.
The film, Before I Sleep: Remembering John Kennedy is not a standard, typical biography of John Kennedy, but it’s more a viewing of the inspirations he tried to impart on the American people. Although built around the day of his assassination, Before I Sleep is constructed as a video collage to a person who inspired his generation and generations to follow.