One man was named John and one man was named Joe. Both were Catholic. Both were Democrats. Both were Presidents of the United States. And that is where the comparisons end.
Joe spent 47 years as a politician in Washington before becoming President, in fact, a period greater than John’s entire life. Joe would trip climbing up the steps to Air Force One, while John would run around playing touch football in his front yard. Joe would wear aviator sunglasses and look completely out of place. John would wear aviator sunglasses standing on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier watching a missile test and look perfectly in place. Joe would rarely be seen by the press, preferring to stay in his basement or be protected by his aides within the walls of the White House. John would actively seek out and engage the press, usually with a broad smile and a great sense of humor. Joe would speak pessimistically, such as telling us of a dark winter ahead. John was an optimist and spoke of conquering daring challenges to America, such as sending a man to the moon and returning him safely to Earth, all within a decade. Joe never served in the military, claiming five separate draft deferments (during the Vietnam war) due to asthma. John was a naval hero during a world war after volunteering to serve his country.
Joe’s Inaugural Address spoke of how we needed Government to fix all our ills, an address of which little will ever be remembered. John spoke of an America that was young and vibrant and of what together we could do to make ourselves stronger. Remember, “Ask not what your country can do for YOU, ask what YOU can do for your country”.
Little did I know on that sunny, snow covered morning, when just a 9-year-old kid growing up in Philadelphia, that I was blessed to see America at her finest. And now, as a retiree living in Atlanta, that I am watching the deteriorating negative impact of aging career politicians on my country. Oh, but to have that youthful exuberance lead us again.