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posted: 11/22/2013 5:30 AM

'Ask what you can do': What it means today

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  • Melissa Henderson, Libertyville

       Melissa Henderson, Libertyville
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Fred Rathke, North Aurora

       Fred Rathke, North Aurora
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Tyler Fryer, Lisle

       Tyler Fryer, Lisle
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • John Compton, Elgin

       John Compton, Elgin
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Patricia Dillon, Schaumburg

       Patricia Dillon, Schaumburg
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Eileen Stocking, Geneva

       Eileen Stocking, Geneva
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Lyle Davis, Naperville

       Lyle Davis, Naperville
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Answering Kennedy's call

 
Daily Herald staff reports

"And so, my fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country."

In these oft-quoted words from his inauguration speech on Jan. 20, 1961, President John F. Kennedy challenged Americans to commit themselves to service for their country.

The call to action remains relevant to many suburban men and women today.

Melissa Henderson, Libertyville

"It reminds me that we are a country of individuals that have to work together in order to make a united whole."

Fred Rathke, North Aurora

"I think that was already instilled in me before he came up with that phrase. My father was a World War II vet and I just had the desire to go into the military to fly."

Tyler Fryer, Lisle

"It's relevant but more so that we (have) the freedom to choose exactly what role we'll play in society nowadays and to really kind of go after that to make sure everybody's kind of playing their part."

John Compton, Elgin

"The phrase itself certainly transcends the time he was speaking in. There have been events also since then, the most notable would be 9/11, where that kind of spirit, where people kind of coming together -- the American people have shown that from time to time."

Patricia Dillon, Schaumburg

"You can do a lot of things for your country. Just in the community you can do things. You can do things with your food pantry, which is much-needed these days."

Eileen Stocking, Geneva

"It led me to join the U.S. Navy when I was 17 years old. And I've been very proud of that service."

Lyle Davis, Naperville

"I spent a number of years in the military, in the Navy. I feel I gave quite a bit to my country for that and I think everybody ought to spend some time giving time to their country. I think that was a good quote for Kennedy. It's something that is relevant today."

-- Compiled by Daily Herald photographers Mark Black, Gilbert R. Boucher II, Joe Lewnard, John Starks and Laura Stoecker.

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