Below are selected quotations from John F. Kennedy's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage (1957). Please note that the page numbers cited below come from the 1964 Memorial Edition of Profiles in Courage, Foreword by Robert F. Kennedy.
"Courage is the virtue that President Kennedy most admired. He sought out those people who had demonstrated in some way, whether it was on a battlefield or a baseball diamond, in a speech or fighting for a cause, that they had courage that they would stand up, that they could be counted on." --Robert F. Kennedy, Foreword, p. 9.
"The true democracy, living and growing and inspiring, puts its faith in the people - faith that the people will not simply elect men who will represent their views ably and faithfully, but will also elect men who will exercise their conscientious judgment - faith that the people will not condemn those whose devotion to principle leads them to unpopular courses, but will reward courage, respect honor, and ultimately recognize right." [p. 264]
"For in a democracy, every citizen, regardless of his interest in politics, 'hold office'; everyone of us is in a position of responsibility; and, in the final analysis, the kind of government we get depends upon how we fulfill those responsibilities. We, the people, are the boss, and we will get the kind of political leadership, be it good or bad, that we demand and deserve." [p. 265]
"In whatever area in life one may meet the challenges of courage, whatever may be the sacrifices he faces if he follows his conscience - the loss of his friends, his fortune, his contentment, even the esteem of his fellow men - each man must decide for himself the course he will follow. The stories of past courage can define that ingredient - they can teach, they can offer hope, they can provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul." [p. 266]
"For without belittling the courage with which men have died, we should not forget those acts of courage with which men - such as the subjects of this book - have lived ." [p. 266]
"A man does what he must - in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures - and that is the basis of all human morality." [p. 266]
-John F. Kennedy
Profiles in Courage