“the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war ”...challenging citizens: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Mr. Sorensen drew on the Bible, the Gettysburg Address and the words of Thomas Jefferson and Winston Churchill as he helped hone and polish that speech.
Kennedy’s inaugural is a masterpiece of phrasing, of parallel construction, of plain statements of fact and value,as we can see in the full paragraph:
Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans--born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage--and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
It was Sorensen's great good fortune that the man for whom he wrote was up to the job. Kennedy - the author - attributed to his generation his own experience and virtues. JFK had to prove as President that he who been born to great privilege in that 20th century had in fact been tempered by war, and disciplined by a hard and bitter peace. Kennedy did that in the Cuban missile crisis when he responded with tempered discipline to the grossly provocative errors of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and Cuba's triumphant guerrilla Fidel Castro. And Kennedy demonstrated his commitment to human rights when he embraced the cause of the African American civil rights movement.
Like his hero Sorensen too met the challenge of adversity. As Weiner notes
Despite a stroke in 2001 and his diminishing eyesight, Mr. Sorensen worked on and completed “Counselor,” his memoir, over the next six years. “I still believe that the mildest and most obscure of Americans can be rescued from oblivion by good luck, sudden changes in fortune, sudden encounters with heroes,” he concluded. “I believe it because I lived it.”