November 2001

Department Invites Graduate as Spring Speaker

Ozzie Mayers

The English Department held its annual English Recognition Banquet on May 2, 2001.  This time, we invited an alum, Dr. Patrick Hicks ('92), to deliver the presentation which follows in the next article.

After graduating from here, Patrick went to DePaul University, where he completed his M.A. in English literature and won a departmental award for his scholarship.  His passion for Ireland began to develop while at DePaul and led him to become an Irish citizen in 1993.  Patrick did a second M.A. at Northern Ireland's most prestigious institution, Queen's University of Belfast.  In 1995 he moved to Kiel, Germany, where he taught English as a foreign language.  Subsequently, he was accepted into the Ph.D. program at the University of Sussex in England.  While there he studied under the Irish scholar Norman Vance and wrote his dissertation on the Northern Irish writer, Brian Moore.  His dissertation concentrates on the representations of history, nationalism, and gender in Moore's works.    

Patrick has published short stories, poems, academic articles, interviews, and book reviews in several notable journals and has drafted six novels (two of which he believes worth publishing).  He now resides in the Twin Cities and is currently a visiting Assistant Professor at St. Thomas, where he is teaching literature and freshman literature and composition.


 The Pine Curtain as Pine Blanket 

Patrick Hicks

Before I start, I want to mention how pleased I am to be here.  Actually, in listening to Ozzie's kind introduction, I'm struck by how much I've accomplished since my graduation in 1992.  I have witnessed terrorism in Northern Ireland, had lunch on the fields of Carthage, visited the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen, ridden camels through the Sahara, waltzed in Vienna, and enjoyed coffee on the morning streets of Barcelona.  Through it all, however, the values that I learned at Saint Ben's/Saint John's as an English major have stayed with me.  So I want to thank you for the honor of addressing you tonight because it intimates that I have done well by your name.  To be honest, this recognition means more to me than getting my doctorate because it implies that the same professors who shaped my understanding of literature as an undergraduate are proud of my subsequent achievements.  In that respect, I feel quite humbled to be standing before you tonight.

It's good to be home.  I try to come back to Saint Ben's/Saint John's at least once a year. The last time that I was here--which was about five months ago--I was walking through the Quad and reminiscing about the classes and challenges I had encountered from 1988 to 1992.  While I was walking down the hall that day, J.P. Earls was coming in the opposite direction.  Now, before I go any further, I should mention that J.P. was the first literature professor I had here; as a result he had the dubious honor of teaching me English 135.  Through him I learned such lively things as rhyme scheme, meter, and point of view, which are those dreadfully boring things we have to master before we can move onto the interesting realm of dissecting texts and arguing about authorial intention.  On that day, however, as J.P. was walking towards me I wasn't sure if he remembered who I was.  Yet when our paths crossed he smiled widely and simply said, "Patrick!  Welcome home!"

Welcome home.

You know, I still feel this way every time that I return to Collegeville or Saint Joe.  Due to my travels, home has recently been an allusive place for me--a place more of  metaphorical grounding than of physical reality.  As a result, during my wanderings across Europe there were three items that accompanied me to all of the countries that I called home.  The first was a photo of my family, which I placed on one corner of my desk.  The second was a battered and well-read copy of Joyce's Ulysses, and the third was this.  Now I know that many of you cannot see what I am holding, but it's a stone.  Sit back for a moment and allow me to tell you a brief story about how this stone came into my possession. 

The day that I graduated from Saint John's--24 May 1992--I came out of the Abbey Church with my cap and gown and that beautiful red stole that we wear and looked around at the familiar faces that I had called my friends for four years.  The bells were pealing across the countryside to announce our graduation.  As time passed, we slowly dispersed to begin our new lives beyond the Pine Curtain.  I went down to the Sag for one last look.  As I stood on the beach, I thought about how the last few words of this very important chapter in my life were being written.  Without thinking about it, I reached down and picked up this stone and placed it into my pocket.  I found the stone once I moved back home, and it seemed proper that it accompany me to Northern Ireland, England, Germany, and Spain.  This stone has served as a reminder of where I came from. Like the photo of my family or my copy of Ulysses, it stayed on my desk to give me a sense of permanence.

What, then, has an English degree from CSB/SJU taught me?  What lessons did I learn here that I was later able to apply to the world?  First, I learned to view the world from different perspectives.  I may have been an American abroad, but I was an American who earnestly tried to see the world from the autochthonous viewpoints of those around me.  Reading such authors as Toni Morrison, Elie Wiesel, Flannery O'Connor, and Anton Chekov prepared me for the multifarious and vibrant perspectives that I would later encounter.  In other words, while I was studying here I began to see the world--indeed to embrace the world--from standpoints that were decidedly neither middle-class nor white male.

Second, I began to appreciate the subtle and formative power that gender has upon our respective identities.  It embarrasses me now to remember how little I knew of feminist criticism when I arrived here as a first-year student or of how insouciant I was about paradigms of masculine identification.   Looking back on the education that I received at CSB/SJU, I can see how my understanding of gender--both for women and men--was radically undermined.  It is a credit to these two institutions that they are actively attempting to dissect the role that gender plays in society.

Getting an English degree from Saint Ben's/Saint John's also allowed me to appreciate how post-colonialism operates in oppressed societies.  I was a late-bloomer in this particular form of theory.  In fact, it wasn't until my senior year that I really began to take an interest in how it affects identity and national status.  It started when I signed up for a class on Bob Marley, Rastafarianism, and post-colonialism, which Mike Opitz was teaching.  I thought to myself "Hey, what fun!  I get to listen to reggae music for a semester."  The course was fun, but it was also tremendously challenging for me personally because, as we read about post-colonialism, I began to realize the value of differénce and how the notion of "empire" can control and manipulate cultural identity.  Before long, I was questioning how this perspective related to Ireland and, more importantly, to Northern Ireland.  In fact, my understanding of Ireland--which is now my spiritual homeland--has never been quite the same since.

But I also learned how to express myself through the written word while I was majoring in English at CSB/SJU.  Through the classes I took from Sister Mara, Jon Hassler, and J. F. Powers, I was encouraged to try such different genres as poetry, short stories, novels, and dramas.  I dabbled in them all and came to appreciate the nuances and joys that each can bring to a writer.

Last, I also learned how to do research and explore new avenues.  Naturally, these skills served me very well in my subsequent academic endeavors.  But they also gave me an intense passion and curiosity about the world that has not diminished.  I remember that when I was working on my Senior Honors Thesis I spent vast amounts of time and energy researching F. Scott Fitzgerald.  My advisor, Ozzie Mayers, eventually had to sit me down and say, "You've done some excellent research here, Patrick, but it's time to start writing something."  Importantly, however, I learned that I should never be afraid to question something and that just because someone has published a book or an article is no reason to assume that the author's opinion is infallible.  In fact, this aspect of not being intimidated by the opinions of others was most beneficial to me when I started my doctorate in England at the University of Sussex.  The year that I started my Ph.D., the University had accepted fifteen candidates from around the world, mainly from England and North America.  In order for us to get to know each other better, the English Department threw a party for us.  We had wine, cheese, and crackers; and most of us sat around a large table discussing our backgrounds.  Now, Sussex is one of the best universities in England.  As a result, I was surrounded by people who had done their undergraduate degrees at places like Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, and Stanford.  As we went around the table and explained where we had done our previous academic work, it was eventually my turn to speak.  They asked me where I received my Bachelor's degree.

"Saint Ben's/Saint John's," I replied.

"Where's that?" they asked.


A pause.

"Where's that?"

Throughout my time as a doctoral candidate at one of Britain's finest institutions, I was not impressed by the big names of the universities that my colleagues attended nor did I regret my choice in being at CSB/SJU.  In fact, just the opposite was true: I came to value my experiences here even more because, unlike some of my friends in the doctoral program, I had a firm grounding in research skills and a healthy attitude about the nature of criticism.  While I was here I began to see that criticism of a paper, or of an idea, was not gratuitous or maliciously supplied; rather, my work was criticized in order to make me a better person.  You may grumble when you get a C on a paper, but in the back of your mind you also understand that it's being done to orient you towards new depths of knowledge that you may have overlooked.

Although I have lived in Chicago, London, northern Germany, Brighton, and Barcelona, the values that I learned as an English major were most apparent to me when I was living in Belfast.  While there I was surrounded by terrorism and hope, anger and compassion, and I tried to sift through the opposing emotions and arguments to see the other side.  Northern Ireland is currently enduring a civil war that is being fought in slow motion, and I was able to embrace both sides--Catholic and Protestant alike--primarily because of what I learned from the Rule of Saint Benedict.  I learned how to listen.  I learned how to shut my mouth, actively attempt to understand the world from an alternative perspective, and then co-join my opinions with those around me.

How has an English degree at Saint Ben's/Saint John's influenced me?  The truth is that I find it difficult to imagine it's not influencing me.  I came to this place with my world sketched in black and white but left with it painted in vibrant color. 

I want all of you who are about to graduate to look at the professors around you and understand that my accomplishments are due to their initial crafting.  I would not be standing before you tonight without their guidance, patience, and commitment to teaching.  So, in light of this, I want to thank the Department for this recognition--for this honor--and say one last thing before I go: I'm already looking forward to the next time that I visit Saint Ben's/Saint John's and someone says, "Welcome home."

Indeed I shall be home, for in many ways I have never really left.


 News from the Chair 

Ozzie Mayers

As you probably know, the English Department annually assesses its curriculum and its relationship in general to its majors and minors through exit interviews and an evaluation form provided to our graduating majors.  Using the information we receive and our own self-assessment, we modify, adjust, or add to our curricular offerings.

As a result of our latest assessment (2000-01), we have introduced two new courses.  The first is English 243: "Reading Literature, Theory, and Culture," a course that students have been requesting for several years.  Our majors told us that they need a lower-division theory course to help them prepare for our upper-division theory course and to assist them sooner in applying theory in their courses.  Brother David Rothstein is currently teaching this new course.  A second course to be instituted this year is English 220: "Topics in Research."  This course, which Dr. Michael Opitz will teach in the spring, is one that faculty believe will enable students to learn and apply basic research skills beyond those learned in First Year Symposium.  As a result, students will have engaged in a research project early in their coursework, one that enforces research methodologies and better prepares those who expect to undertake honor theses.

We had several major accomplishments in our department last year. Two of our faculty, Dr. Cynthia Malone and Dr. Michael Opitz, were granted full professorships.

Sister Mara Faulkner received the Sister Mary Grell Teaching Award.  As I stated in my recommendation of Sister Mara for this award, she "plans her courses with the sensitivity of a parent, the creativity of a poet, and the wisdom of an experienced teacher."  Look forward to her All-College Convocation speech in our next newsletter.

Sister Eva Hooker won the Faculty  Advisor of the Year Award in the Humanities.  As a number of you can attest, Sister Eva has been a mentor for many students, who have delighted in her warmth, wit, sincerity, intelligence, and reliability.


Dr. Mara Faulkner, OSB

Dr. Chris Freeman

Finally, Dr. Chris Freeman along with Dr. James Berg, program director for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, received the prestigious Lambda Literary Award in the Gay Studies on May 31, 2001, at a ceremony in Chicago for his The Isherwood Century.  The book is a collection of over twenty essays, memoirs, and interviews exploring the life and legacy of Anglo-American author and gay pioneer Christopher Isherwood. The volume was published by the University of Wisconsin Press in 2000, and a paperback edition was made available in August 2001. For more information on the book, see the associated web site:           

For those of you who may want to contact us this year, you might want to know that Sister Mary Jane Berger is on leave in the fall, Sister Eva Hooker has taken a year-long leave, and I will be on sabbatical in the spring.  While I am away, Dr. Michael Opitz will serve as acting chair.           



Woman, Spirit, Nature: A Writing Retreat with Monza Naff

Mara Faulkner, O.S.B.

"Let the silence begin here."

Many readers of The English Web will remember Monza Naff, a wonderful teacher and friend who was at CSB/SJU in the late 1970s and mid 1980s.  Monza now directs an unusual consulting and teaching center in Oakland.  Through Inner Growth Resources, Monza offers writing workshops and retreats, editorial consulting, and spiritual formation.  As her newsletter says, "She can also help you plan a wedding, a memorial service, or other rituals of celebration or transition."  Monza has published two collections of her poetry--Healing the Womanheart and Exultation: A Poem Cycle in Celebration of the Seasons--and is working on a third.

The writing retreat I participated in this summer brought sixteen women from around the United States to the Quaker Retreat Center near Santa Cruz.  Every day, in the fragrant shadow of the redwoods, we wrote poetry, memoir, and fiction under Monza's sure guidance.  We were different from each other in many ways, ranging in age from twenty-something to eighty-something; only three of us were teachers.  What joined us was our conviction that woman, spirit, and nature form an intricate knot that dare not be untied.  (Of course, we were also united in our love of the food prepared by our gourmet cook, raucous laughter, and lots of singing.)

All of us came to the retreat from overly busy and noisy lives; the peace and beauty of the Quaker Center settled some of that busyness.  My favorite spot was a tiny meditation chapel surrounded by the redwoods.  On the trail to the chapel was a simple wooden sign that said in crooked letters, "Let the silence begin here."  The combination of inner and outer silence and friendly support helped us all create what Monza called "brave writing."  I came home from the retreat with an anthology compiled by our group, some great recipes, my own clutch of "brave writing," and a renewed conviction that Monza is an inspired teacher and guide who brings both writing and communal connections into the light.  In reflecting on what happened during that week, Monza wrote that we had "offered each other safe space just to be, to think, to rest, to give to and rely on each other in an easeful loop of reciprocity, to appreciate the bounty of the earth, our fragile island home." 


 Middle English in Massachusetts

Hilary Thimmesh, O.S.B.

Last February I took a semester off and with the help of some faculty development funding went to South Hadley, Massachusetts, for seven weeks to live at St. Theresa's parish and read Middle English religious writers contemporary with Chaucer.  The draw was the library resources of Mount Holyoke College, linked with Amherst, Hampshire, Smith, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Dr. Penny Gill, senior member of the MHC faculty in Political Science, a former member of St. John's National Advisory Council, and a good friend. 

Years ago I specialized in Middle English at Cornell and taught the Chaucer course and the British Literature survey at St. John's.  Then I got side-tracked into administration while Brother Louis Blenkner did Chaucer with all the feeling of a kindred spirit.  Lately Chaucer has fallen to my lot again, and I find myself curious about his religion.  We assume that in the late 1300s in London he must have been Catholic, and we have a certain number of pious works from his hands that seem to support that assumption.  But can we be sure, for instance, that he wasn't a secret sympathizer with John Wyclif?  Wyclif was an Oxford priest who was Chaucer's close contemporary and is generally considered a proto-Protestant because he advocated not only clergy reform but also Scripture in the vernacular and the Eucharist as a symbolic reminder of Christ rather than his actual presence.  

Wyclif's followers were called Lollards.  Among the pilgrims in the Canterbury Tales, the Parson exhibits attitudes that lead the Host to think he smells "a lollere in the wynde."  The Parson's Tale is a long prose tract on the sacrament of penance and the seven deadly sins that nobody ever reads and that modern translators skip.  There is growing scholarly interest in it, however, and not only because one can detect traces of what may be lollardy or on the other hand proleptic touches of Jansenism.  I told myself that I would take the time in Massachusetts to do a close reading of the Parson's Tale and try to put it in context by reading, also in Middle English, some contemporary religious works. 

I am pleased to report that that is what I did, and that I made some rewarding discoveries along the way.  For example, I read The Book of Margery Kempe, all 254 pages of it in the standard EETS edition.  Getting to know her and some of the scholarly writing that has been done about her since feminist critics took her to their heart was a great delight.  Having read only little bits of her book in translation, I had always dismissed her as a religious oddity, a well-to-do lay woman who in middle life got religion and paid off her husband's debts in return for no more sex (after fourteen children).  But reading her whole story as dictated to a clerical amanuensis in the 1430s was to fall in love with her.  I mean this is the woman whom the Archbishop of York greeted with the remark, "I hear that you are a wicked woman."  To which Margery replied, "Sir, so I hear said that you are a wicked man, and if you are as wicked as people say, you shall never get to heaven unless you mend your ways while you are here." 

I re-read Julian of Norwich's Showings, her deeply theological reflections on the suffering of Christ and the love of a God in whom there is justice but no anger.  I looked at Walter Hilton and Richard Rolle, and I absorbed The Cloud of Unknowing, an anonymous treatise on contemplative prayer, thought to be the work of an English Carthusian monk.  I thoroughly enjoyed and gained from the work of another Carthusian whose name we know, Nicholas Love, who wrote A Mirror of the Blessed Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  And I did the close reading of the Parson's Tale that I had planned, refreshing my memory of his strictures against the scandalous way that these modern rich kids dress-short jackets and tight hose that leave nothing to the imagination-and, more important, his implicit understanding that rich and poor, nobles and commoners, are all one before God and that dealing justly with one another and sharing with the poor is everyone's duty.

Later in the semester I got to England and visited Margery Kempe's parish church, St. Margaret's in Kings Lynn, still an active Church of England parish, though periodically flooded by the tidal waters of the river Ouse at its front door.  As time allowed over summer I worked at translating some parts of the Parson's Tale for use in Chaucer class next spring, and I have stayed in touch with Dr. Carolyn Collette, Chaucerian at Mount Holyoke, whose acquaintance was an unexpected bonus.

 Sister Mariella Gable Prize 

   Literary Arts Institute

The Literary Arts Institute of the College of Saint Benedict, in partnership with Graywolf Press, will hold a celebration in honor of Victoria Redel, recipient of the first Sister Mariella Gable Prize, for her novel Loverboy.  Award-winning poet Marie Howe will introduce Ms. Redel at the celebration.

The late Sister Mariella Gable--a Dante scholar, poet, editor, writer, and champion of new fiction--was an outstanding English professor at the College of Saint Benedict from 1928-1973.  She enriched many students' lives through literature and played an important role in the early careers of such writers as Flannery O'Connor, Betty Wahl, and J. F. Powers.

The rescheduled celebration will take place Thursday, November 29th at 7:30 p.m. in the Sacred Heart Chapel at the College of Saint Benedict/Saint Benedict's Monastery Campus.  All students, faculty, staff and members of the monastic community are invited to attend.  A book signing and refreshments will follow. 


New Capstone Scholarship Awarded

Nancy Hynes, O.S.B.

The $3,000 Capstone Scholarship, newly available to CSB/SJU English majors, was awarded to Chelsie Hanson, CSB senior, last spring at the annual English major banquet.


Chelsie Hanson

A paid internship at Capstone Press,  separate from the scholarship, will be awarded in spring, 2002.  Both the scholarship and the internship are established by T. Bill Coughlan, president of Capstone Press, Mankato, MN, a press that specializes in children's books.  

The scholarship and internship were inspired by CSB/SJU graduates, especially Colleen Sexton ('90),  who worked with Mr. Coughlan.  "I want to give other graduates an opportunity to work in editing and publishing," Coughlan said.

Criteria for the Capstone include excellent academic standing, completion of an upper-division writing course, junior or senior standing, and a written essay describing plans for a career in editing and publishing.



 Double Harvest in Annual Scholarship Winners 

Nancy Hynes, O.S.B.

The English Department identified double its usual number of scholarship winners for 2000-2001 because the Department changed the timing of awards from fall to spring.  As a result, it honored two sets of winners at the annual English banquet last spring.  


Scholarships for 2000 went to:


Stephanie Frerich '02
Kristin Malloy Scholarship


Jennifer Lindquist '02
Nancy Hynes Scholarship


Laura Stengrim '01
Dr. Angeline Dufner Scholarship


Bonnie Wittkop '01
Mariella Gable Scholarship


Anne Walters '02
Margaret Friel-Murphy Scholarship



Scholarships for 2001 went to:


Stephanie Frerich '02
Kristin Malloy Scholarship


Anne McCarney '02
Nancy Hynes Scholarship


Sara Johnson '02
Dr. Angeline Dufner Scholarship



These scholarships, open to CSB English majors, are awarded on the basis of financial need, scholarship, and a written essay.  Scholarship applications are due on March 22, 2002, and they are to be turned in to Bev Radaich, Department Secretary.


Anne Walters '02
Mariella Gable Scholarship


Lynn Cornell '03
Margaret Friel-Murphy Scholarship


 Editing The Craft So Long to Learn 

Charles Thornbury 

Several years ago, George Connor, my former professor and mentor at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, asked me if I'd be interested in editing a collection of his speeches and commentaries.  I was greatly honored and said I would do it with the provision that we include some of his letters (he is a prolific letter writer) and poems.  As it turned out, many of the letters and poems did not make the final cut as I revised and revised the shape and sequence of the collection.  Most of the letters that made it were written during World War II when he was a young soldier.  One gives a horrifying account of his visit to Buchenwald shortly after it was in Allied hands.   

The typed manuscript a year ago was over 500 pages; by the end of this summer it was 288.  In the first complete draft the collection was arranged in ten sections.  Now there are five: I. A Passion for Learning; II. On Literature; III. Christian Faith and Life; IV. Country & Service, Community and Citizenship; and V. Among Family and Friends.  The title, taken from Chaucer, was settled on early in the editing: The Craft So Long to Learn: A Personal Chronicle of Mind and Spirit.

I was also honored to work with the great writer Frederick Buechner, who wrote the preface. In the collection, Professor Connor contemplates and celebrates linkages and connectedness: in thinking (reason, ethics, literature, reading); in the university community (students, professors, scholarship, and teaching); in the larger social community (citizenship, courtesy, social responsibility); in the spirit and soul (prayer, meditation, conscience, sacraments, the church); and in the individual life (friends, listening, roads taken and not taken, the examined life, the unexamined life).  There is a ruminative, even playful, character in this chronicle of mind and spirit and a compass that points a direction, not necessarily a single direction.

The book is being reviewed by the University of Tennessee press for publication.

The following selection is from my introduction "Connecting the Prose with the Passion":

"Like Mitch Albom, who on Tuesdays, nearly 20 years after graduation, got a one-to-one class with his undergraduate professor Morrie Schwartz, I was listening to my professor again. When I suggested to George a rough parallel between our project and Tuesdays with Morrie, he pointed out that he was not dying, 'in so far as any of us are not dying.'  Our lunches [mostly on Tuesdays] were quite ordinary, in a southern way (most often we ordered fried okra with our entrées, and George would ask for two servings)-what was going on with his friends, his scorn for a mediocre director of an agency ('one wonders how he found the way to his office each day'), the errands he needed to run that afternoon, the latest good report from his visit to the doctor, the stash of letters and pictures he discovered in a box that was hiding in his closet.  In our conversations, we both discovered boxes of ourselves, as though each had been packed in haste and not labeled.  But we weren't labeling now either.  Without knowing what we were about, we delighted more in the locating of something familiar, something forgotten and rediscovered.  Occasionally, when I gave him typescript of this book to proof (he gave me a free hand in the ordering and selection from much more material than appears here), I felt I was the mentor until I remembered the texts and the voice were his.

"That sense of the sway of his voice seemed faithful to my experience of knowing George.  His voice-pace, tone, elbows and stops-is what I think of first in describing him.  It has the power of an orator, the art of a poet, and the serenity of the psalmist.  He seems to have been born speaking words, or it least it appears so after ten minutes of conversation with him.  '[A] civilization lives in great part by words,' he writes, 'a people realize their identity and destiny very largely in language.'  His passion for words is at once secular and theological, at once a wish to think things over and a desire to figure human experience.  The figure is no less than the power of the word to teach, to guide, to bring into knowing (NO jargon, cant, clichés, psychobabble, and vapid slogans).  But for all his command and authority, he knows that in naming, neither ideas nor experience is stilled once and for all.  He sidles up to an experience; he interrogates an idea and backs away.  'It is one of our human failings,' he says, 'to suppose that important discoveries are always attended by shooting stars or other heavenly manifestations.'  Like the writers he admires, he speaks of the struggle to express in words the likeness of experience."


 The Language of a Poet: 
     Remarks at the Memorial Service for President John F. Kennedy  

George Connor

Editor's note: At first glance, publishing a speech from November 27, 1963, shortly after John F. Kennedy's death, may seem strange.  But in the weeks since September 11, remembering this President's courage and his ability to speak to the heart of Americans can buoy our own courage as well as give testimony to the power that words have in our lives.  Angeline Dufner

To judge the quality of a man is always a difficult and daring enterprise.  But when we have recognized greatness in him, it is often even more difficult to identify those things upon which his greatness depends.  Yet one could not observe John Fitzgerald Kennedy in the thirty-four months of his presidency without the deep conviction that here was a man upon whom the stamp of greatness had been placed.  It is our loss, and the world=s loss, that he did not live to employ that greatness more and more completely in the service of mankind.

Of what qualities did his greatness consist?  What qualities made it possible for him to occupy with distinction the loneliest and most powerful office in the free world?  As he himself observed in his inaugural address, Ahistory [is] the final judge of our deeds," and only history will make possible a final assessment.  But nevertheless, some of the qualities which made him what he was are easily identifiable: energy almost without limit, a kind of tough-minded courage, great intellectual endowment, and as Mr. James Reston once observed, Agrace under pressure. "

Reflecting something of all of these qualities, and deriving from them, was his ability as spokesman of a free and freedom-loving people.  It would be difficult to name a great national leader, found in whatever part of the world, who did not have the ability to make articulate and manifest the hopes and aspirations of his fellow citizens.  What this country owes to Franklin D. Roosevelt for the buoyant confidence of his public addresses during the dark days of the depression, or what the whole world owes to the indomitable spirit of Winston Churchill's oratory during World War II, is quite beyond estimation. 

We owe now a similar debt to President Kennedy.  He was not perhaps a great speaker in the conventional sense of that term; his delivery was sometimes rapid and rather stiff.  But the words he spoke on the great occasions were unfailingly words which helped us to see ourselves as a people, words which revived our sense of community and common endeavor, words which gave us a heightened vision of what it can mean to be an American.  

Of these great public utterances, I shall always remember three with special admiration and gratitude.  The first was his inaugural address, to which I have already referred.  By any standards, it was a great speech, a fitting crown and climax for that extraordinarily moving and impressive ceremony.  Those who saw it can never forget the spirit of youth and vitality and promise which permeated that occasion, nor the strong and solemn and hopeful words with which the first President born in this century addressed his fellow-Americans. 

The second occasion was Mr. Kennedy's speech on the Sunday evening of the desegregation crisis at Ole Miss.  It was a tactful and conciliatory speech, but it was also tough and courageous.  He compromised no principles, and he did not waver in his support of full opportunity for every citizen.  It was the speech of a man who had the courage to believe in the dignity and worth of every human being. 

The third speech was his address to the nation on the Cuban crisis in October of last year.  To stand at the pinnacle of power at that demanding and decisive moment must have been a dreadful thing, but he did not falter.  Here, I think, was the supreme test of his grace under pressure, and he looked almost calmly at the unspeakable horror which could easily have ensued.  He reminded us of our duty, and we took courage from his courage.

We may be sure that it was no mere gesture of politeness that accounted for the presence on his inaugural platform of a distinguished American poet.  Mr. Kennedy had a poet's sensitivity to language, and he had a profound and genuine appreciation of a poet's vision.  If I seem to make too much of this great ability with words, I simply remind you that a civilization lives in great part by words, a people realize their identity and destiny very largely in language.  For a sharpened sense of the high privilege of citizenship in the United States of America, all of us have good cause to hold John Fitzgerald Kennedy in grateful and affectionate remembrance.