“Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You…”

Lesson Duration

Author: Department of Education and Public Programs, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Summary: John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address inspired children and adults to see the importance of civic action and public service.  His historic words challenged every American to contribute in some way to the public good.  In this lesson, students learn about the theme of President Kennedy’s inaugural address, civic action, and consider how it applies to their own lives.


Students will:

  • interpret and analyze a primary source document to gather information about President Kennedy’s speech
  • explain the quote “Ask not what your country can do for you…”
  • propose an idea for civic action in their own school or community




The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library