Congress marks 50 years since Kennedy inaugural

The Associated Press
FILE _ U.S. President John F. Kennedy delivers his inaugural address after taking the oath of office at Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. in this Jan. 20, 1961 file photo. The 14-minute inaugural's Cold War-era content, shaped by a World War II veteran for a country on the brink of cultural upheaval, is certainly outdated. Were it uttered by a modern politician, Kennedy's famous "ask not" call to service might well be derided as a socialist pitch for more government. "Unfortunately, in today's environment, speeches are more likely to say, "Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what you can do for your party," says Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to both Republicans and Democrats who recently helped establish the nonpartisan organization No Labels.    (AP Photo, File)
FILE _ U.S. President John F. Kennedy delivers his inaugural address after taking the oath of office at Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. in this Jan. 20, 1961 file photo. The 14-minute inaugural's Cold War-era content, shaped by a World War II veteran for a country on the brink of cultural upheaval, is certainly outdated. Were it uttered by a modern politician, Kennedy's famous "ask not" call to service might well be derided as a socialist pitch for more government. "Unfortunately, in today's environment, speeches are more likely to say, "Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what you can do for your party," says Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to both Republicans and Democrats who recently helped establish the nonpartisan organization No Labels. (AP Photo, File)

The 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's inaugural address was marked at the Capitol with speeches celebrating Kennedy's famed call on Americans to serve their country.

Vice President Joe Biden, House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Kennedy's daughter Caroline Kennedy were among the speakers at the ceremony in the Rotunda of the Capitol held a half-century after Kennedy's 1961 address.

Biden said the speech — with the words "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" — set in motion a new era where Americans were challenged to contribute a part of their lives to service.

President Barack Obama is to speak at another event commemorating the address at the Kennedy Center Thursday night.