The speech John F. Kennedy was to have given on the night Nov. 22, 1963, is listed in the archives of the JFK Library and Museum as “undelivered”: Kennedy never gave it because he was assassinated that day in Dallas, hours before he was scheduled to speak.
Kennedy, who would have turned 100 today, planned to deliver a timeless and still timely message about the importance of “learning and reason,” in leadership — and a hope that Americans will not “listen to nonsense.”
Because Kennedy never got to give the speech, Hollywood luminaries enlisted Danish actor Caspar Phillipson, who played Kennedy in last year’s “Jackie,” to recite it a few weeks ago a party for the COLCOA film festival, held at the home of “Grease” director Randal Kleiser.
A video of the moment employs the full sweep of Hollywood myth-making: a gorgeous score by Greg O’Connor swoons in the background. As Phillipson reads Kennedy’s words, the images change from color to black and white.
“America’s leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality, and the plausible with the possible, will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions to all the world problems,” says Phillipson.
“This link between leadership and learning is indispensable in world affairs,” he continues. “Ignorance or misinformation can handicap the progress of a city or a company, but they can, if allowed to prevail in foreign policy, handicap this country’s security.
“We cannot expect that everyone will talk sense to the American people. But we can hope that fewer people will listen to nonsense,” he says. “We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and in all time the ancient vision of peace on earth, good will toward men.”