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8 John F. Kennedy Quotes That Will Inspire You To Be Better, In Honor Of His Birthday

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Although he was just two years into his presidency when he was assassinated on November 22, 1963, at the age of 46, President John F. Kennedy, Jr., left an enduring legacy, stemming from his work on expansive foreign policy challenges, contributions to the civil rights movement, and, along with his young family, a glamorous image oftentimes equated with American royalty. Today, May 29, would have been JFK's 99th birthday if he were alive to celebrate it. Thankfully, though he's no longer here to see it, there's a wealth of John F. Kennedy quotes still floating around that have continued to inspire generations of young people eager to follow in his prolific footsteps (or perhaps to just push a little more each day).

It's impossible to know what JFK would have accomplished had his presidency not been cut short, but both during his time in office and after, he has been immortalized in the hearts of the American people as a symbol of purpose and hope. Whether he was encouraging Americans to literally shoot for the moon through his expansion of the U.S. space program or successfully finessing the Cuban missile crisis, an incredibly tense and potentially disastrous event, Kennedy's actions and words encourage us as a nation and as individuals to strive to eschew complacency and embrace progress.

On Selflessness & Teamwork

During his inauguration speech in 1961, Kennedy implored Americans to commit themselves to the good of the United States, so that we can all be great. "Ask not what your country can do for you," he said, "ask what you can do for your country." This is certainly applicable today, and in all kinds of situations, from helping friends and family members out without expectation of repayment to teaching kids to cherish and take care of their siblings, always.

Going After What You Want & Deserve

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ARLINGTON, VA - NOVEMBER 19: A jigsaw puzzle featuring President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy are for sale at the gift shop at Arlington Cemetery on November 19, 2013 in Arlington, Virginia. The 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination is Friday November 22, 2013. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

"Let us never negotiate out of fear," Kennedy also stated in his now-famous inauguration speech. "But never let us fear to negotiate." If you think you deserve a well-earned raise at work, ask for it! (After all, JFK's wife, Jackie Onassis, certainly never held back.)

On Health... & So Much More

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A man looks a books on late American president John F Kennedy displayed in the window of a bookstore on November 8, 2013 in The Hague. Many new or re-issued books have gone on sale ahead of the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's death. AFP PHOTO / ANP / LEX VAN LIESHOUT **NETHERLANDS OUT** (Photo credit should read LEX VAN LIESHOUT/AFP/Getty Images)

"For one true measure of a nation is its success in fulfilling the promise of a better life for each of its members," Kennedy said during a 1962 special message to Congress about the health needs to the country. "Let this be the measure of our nation."  

It's so true that when one succeeds, all have a better change of greatness. Kennedy was talking about health,which is so important, but this is also a message about the role teamwork and just plain caring about others has in our society, and how it can make us all so much better.

Wealth Isn't The Most Important Thing

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"This country cannot afford to be materially rich and spiritually poor," Kennedy once succinctly said, in his 1963 State of the Union address. And he's right: It's easy to get caught up in going after the most stylist and exclusive Yeezys and the newest iPhone, but what's really important is connecting with others and reflecting, whether that be through religion or writing thoughts down in a journal. Internalizing good makes us a better, richer nation altogether.

On Getting Your Butt To The Gym

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HENGELO, NETHERLANDS - MAY 22: Asha Philip (C) of Great Britain competes in the Womens 100m during the AA Drink FBK Games held at the FBK Stadium on May 22, 2016 in Hengelo, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

"We have become more and more not a nation of athletes but a nation of spectators," said at a 1961 NFL Hall of Fame Banquet. Ouch. That's pretty brutal. I feel like I have go for a run or something, like, now.

Plus, I want to belong to a nation that leads and innovates, not one that sits idly. Getting physically active might just be an easy way to get that going.

On Staying True To A Cause

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WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 02: A portrait of former President John F. Kennedy is seen near decorations during a preview of the 2015 holiday decor at the White House December 2, 2015 in Washington, DC. As part of the Joining Forces initiative, the first lady welcomed military families to the White House for the first viewing of the 2015 holiday decorations. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Here's one that I really love, that JFK delivered back in 1962:

It's a shoutout to those consistently sloughing though to defend and advance what they believe in, whether it's reproductive justice or the Black Lives Matter movement. To me, this says: Find your passion, your cause, and leave it better. Points for staying with it, not making huge progress immediately.

On Being The Best You Can Be

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A giant portrait of former US President John F Kennedy is cast on the illuminated facade of the town hall of the Schoeneberg district in Berlin on October 14, 2015 as part of the Berlin Leuchtet light festival. The town hall of the Tempelhof-Schoeneberg borough of the German capital was the seat of the West Berlin state senate until 1991 and is the venue where US President Kennedy made his famous speech in the then divided city on June 26th, 1963 declaring 'Ich bin in Berliner' ( I am a Berliner). AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

JFK said this just months before he died, in a 1963 address to the UN General Assembly, and it translates perfectly to today. With the Internet and social media, we all have more and more of an opportunity to share our opinions, stand up for causes, interact with others, and so much more. Moms are literally molding little humans into the adults they will someday become. It's all a lot of responsibility, and one to take very seriously.

On Plain Truths

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Tourists look at a flag draped casket on a caisson outside the White House during the filming a scene for the movie 'Jackie' on Pennsylvania Avenue February 28, 2016 in Washington, DC. 'Jackie', a film about the days immediately following the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy, is set for a 2017 release. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

JFK didn't try to sugarcoat or justify this address to the nation, but the implicit message is clear: We, as a country and individuals, must accept unfairness (but not inequality), and work to be our best regardless.

Despite any issues that may have arisen in his life or with his untimely and tragic death at the age of 46, President John F. Kennedy managed to leave behind a wealth of important knowledge for future generations — whether he realized it or not. All that's left for us to do is to read it and remember — and perhaps try to be better.