On the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of John F. Kennedy, I thought I would be good to pause and reflect upon a quote from the late president, brought to my attention by Luann Purcell Jennings of the Church and Art Network. To view the entire article and even listen to the speech, which is posted from the National Endowment of the Arts, please hit it here. This quote comes from the eulogy President Kennedy shared at the memorial service of poet Robert Frost.
“If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth. And as Mr. MacLeish once remarked of poets, there is nothing worse for our trade than to be in style.“In free society art is not a weapon and it does not belong to the spheres of polemic and ideology. Artists are not engineers of the soul. It may be different elsewhere. But democratic society—in it, the highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist is to remain true to himself and to let the chips fall where they may. In serving his vision of the truth, the artist best serves his nation. And the nation which disdains the mission of art invites the fate of Robert Frost’s hired man, the fate of having ‘nothing to look backward to with pride, and nothing to look forward to with hope.'”