The Soft American. That was the title of an article forwarded to me by my friend Professor Tom Fahey. The author of the article was president-elect John F. Kennedy. What he wrote over half a century ago hits home now more than ever.
…the knowledge that the physical well-being of the citizen is an important foundation for the vigor and vitality of all the activities of the nation, is as old as Western civilization itself. But it is a knowledge which today, in America, we are in danger of forgetting.
..the physical vigor of our citizens is one of America’s most precious resources. If we waste and neglect this resource, if we allow it to dwindle and grow soft then we will destroy much of our ability to meet the great and vital challenges which confront our people. We will be unable to realize our full potential as a nation.
It applies to our readers in the rest of the developed world just as well. JFK continued:
Throughout our history we have been challenged to armed conflict by nations which sought to destroy our independence or threatened our freedom. The young men of America have risen to those occasions, giving themselves freely to the rigors and hardships of warfare. But the stamina and strength which the defense of liberty requires are not the product of a few weeks’ basic training or a month’s conditioning. These only come from bodies which have been conditioned by a lifetime of participation in sports and interest in physical activity. Our struggles against aggressors throughout our history have been won on the playgrounds and corner lots and fields of America. Thus, in a very real and immediate sense, our growing softness, our increasing lack of physical fitness, is a menace to our security…
If our citizens were drafted today to wage an all-out infantry war, I would put my money on my septuagenarian father and father-in-law, veterans of the Soviet Army and the US Marine Corps respectively, over most twenty-year-olds when it comes to mental toughness and the ability to haul a heavy kit. My dad deadlifts 405 pounds without a belt and my father-in-law never misses a day of kettlebell swings.
It is ironic that at a time when the magnitude of our dangers makes the physical fitness of our citizens a matter of increasing importance, it takes greater effort and determination than ever before to build the strength of our bodies. The age of leisure and abundance can destroy vigor and muscle tone as effortlessly as it can gain time.
A memo to our youth. Don’t depend on somebody else to be strong. Have pride. Look up to the Old West pioneers whose rugged individualist spirit made America great.
…we can fully restore the physical soundness of our nation only if every American is willing to assume responsibility for his own fitness and the fitness of his children. We do not live in a regimented society where men are forced to live their lives in the interest of the state. We are, all of us, as free to direct the activities of our bodies as we are to pursue the objects of our thought. But if we are to retain this freedom, for ourselves and for generations yet to come, then we must also be willing to work for the physical toughness on which the courage and intelligence and skill of man so largely depend.
It is the StrongFirst vision that today’s young adults who are members of our brotherhood and sisterhood of strength will raise the next “great generation.” Their kids will play rough and grow up strong, ready to pursue and defend the American (or Hungarian, or Italian) dream.
14 thoughts on “Vote Strong”
My hubby sent me a link to this. I’ve never even seen the site before, but I can see why the hubster reads it.
As for me…well, I can actually remember when JFK was president; I was eight when he was killed. I can remember doing things in gym class that were part of “The President’s Council on Physical Fitness”. I was lousy at them, and in retrospect I can see why – I had horrible nutrition, and since I was a girl, nobody overly concerned themselves about how strong I was.
Now, as a 58 year old woman with a lifetime history of illnesses and debilities, I am embarking on a new effort to become physically fit. I’m working out 4 to 5 days a week, and trying to improve my nutrition. Will I ever be really strong? Don’t know. All I know is I’m stronger now than I was, and will be stronger in the future. “Why bother?”, some might ask. Because 90% of the young people I know (those under 35) are weak, whiny wimps. That includes most of my nieces and nephews, who should theoretically be concerned with looking after their dear old auntie. Right…
So if I’m ever going to make it to the future, (as in, “the future belongs to those who show up for it”) I will have to do it under my own power. Not only would those wussy little brats not be willing to help or defend me, they would be hard pressed to even survive in a truly awful situation.
Do I expect a truly awful situation? Maybe. As Little Lord Fauntleroy said, “You never know what might be coming.”
Strength and Honor.
I took my daughter to see the new Red Dawn last night. Sitting behind us were quite a few kids about 12-17 I would guess, maybe 15-20 of them total. At the end of the movie I heard one say ‘If that really happened, I wouldn’t do anything…screw that! I would get to stay home and not worry about getting shot or go to prison camp or anything like that’. This is how pathetic we have become as a society. This is how weak and how little our Youth thinks of our country. BTW NOT ONE KID said they would fight, they all just agreed with the dumb ass.
As for me, I am a Wolverine.
Plain Flat Awesome!
“Don’t depend on somebody else to be strong. Have pride. Look up to the Old West pioneers whose rugged individualist spirit made America great.”
well, yes, and also decimate the indigenous population, introduce disease, etc.
It seems odd that in the late fifiies early 60’s, kennedy is romanticising some “healthy” american past. When would that have been? How has that actually lead to greater wins in battles? Is that why vietnam failed for the US? Were the millions of ukranians simply out of shape in WWII? Or if only Parisians had been fitter they’d not have had to surrender to Germany? And perhaps Germany just got flabby as the war progressed? Is that why iraquies are without power and water? Too decadant to stop shock and awe?
Great stories like Kennedy’s don’t need to be backed up – they just sound durn good don’t they? Even if insupportable and jingoistic.
Now, if you want to talk about where there is real data, strength makes our brains work better and lets us be smarter. And better inginuity has won more battles than raw might. Just ask odysseus – warrior and strategist. Or the great cryptanalyst alan turing – inveterate cyclist – who effectively won the war for britain by cracking enigma.
Vote smart – that IS a strong vote.
If you say “strength makes our brains work better and lets us be smarter”, wouldn’t it make more sense to vote Strong??? Not too bright after all are ya? Strength is the foundation of many things. Thus, I vote Strong!
My 48 year old father is definitly fitter than 95% of my comrades in my unit.
Very inspirational first post.
Pavel, Thanks again for the great weekend in St. Paul at Level II cert. Really enjoyed the whole experience including visiting with you & Alex over dinner on saturday. You & your leaders are an inspiration and I look forward to continuing my education with your new organization.
I love this. Now where’s the Rosie the Riveter with the kettlebell pic 😉
great article and v inspiring quotations. Great to be part of an organisation which values human strength and resilience. I hope that together we can go from strength to strength.
“Is this you, Pavel?”
You bet, Ram.
Now, I am glad to join the new organization , Strongfirst.
I really hope it will be greater than before, with a Pure spirit and brothership forever!
Amazing quote from JFK, “It is ironic that at a time when the magnitude of our dangers makes the physical fitness of our citizens a matter of increasing importance, it takes greater effort and determination than ever before to build the strength of our bodies.” That it is even more true today than 50 years ago is reflected in the revolutionary document “Designed to Move” just released – http://designedtomove.org/.
Reminds me that the “Father of Rehabilitation Medicine” Pr Janda’s withering attack on sedentarism is identical to Pavel Tsatsouline’s. And both have similar critiques of the methods of modern fitness training. I guess if you have a good guide “All Road’s Lead to Rome”
Great first post (is this you, Pavel?)! In the recent Sandy disaster, evacuating obese people from buildings without power would have been a tough job. A strong army can’t just come out of a weak population beyond a point. Standards would tend to fall.
Yes! I find it so hard to communicate this to others. They are happy being lazy I guess. I would rather be Strong FIRST!
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