“Something we were withholding made us weak/Until we found out that it was ourselves," wrote Robert Frost, in "The Gift Outright." Frost recited this poem at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961.

With the words, “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man," John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th president of the US. And arguably, no one could move us the way JFK could. He understood the power of words and of poetry. For his inauguration, he asked Robert Frost, US poet, to read a poem.

Frost wrote a poem called “Dedication,” for the inauguration but when he went to the podium on the cold January day, the snow blinded him and, thinking quickly, he recited “The Gift Outright” instead, something he knew by heart.

Sara G. remembers “The Inauguration was on a freezing day, the whole northeastern coast was snowed in. As an 11 year old living in New England, we didn’t have school that day because of the snow, and I remember watching the inauguration on television.” Frost was 86 at the time.

In “Dedication,” Frost wrote, “Summoning artists to participate/In the august occasions of the state/Seems something for us all to celebrate./ This day is for my cause a day of days,/And his be poetry’s old-fashioned praise/Who was the first to think of such a thing.”

To see his originals, go here: http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/modern/jb_modern_frost_1_e.html , and here: http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/modern/jb_modern_frost_3_e.html .

I changed after Kennedy’s inauguration and so did ^my^ country. Before the speech, I was a college kid wondering what life had in store for me and waiting for ^it^ to happen. After the speech, I was an important person who had a country that needed her, a world that needed her. I became a person with a mission, and so did those around me. Many of my classmates joined the battle against segregation and later the Peace Corps. This was a new concept in 1961 – giving service to your country. That man had a way with words.

I went on to serve on many Boards, and raise money for the homeless. I considered it “tithing” – giving back. Because of Kennedy’s words, I felt I could make a difference, and as a volunteer coordinator on many occasions, I encouraged those around me to, as well. The results were always gratifying.

Part of the issue with Grasso, our former chairman of the NYSE concerns this idea of public service. Dick Grasso never completed college and worked his way up the SEC, though no one argues he did a good job, while current SEC chairman, William H. Donaldson founded Yale University’s Graduate School of Management and was its first dean.

In addition, Donaldson has worked in both the private and the public sectors, an exposure Grasso hadn’t had. In a Washington Post article, “Two Wall St. Giants, One Long History," it’s reported that “most people interviewed said they believe Donaldson truly is disturbed that the chairman of the NYSE might not view the job as a public service post. Grasso ... characterized his job as two-thirds businessman, one-third regulator.”

The two disagreed as to the nature of the job. They have different presumptions. Donaldson, by the way, has his fortune, but made it before taking the chairmanship of the exchange.

“Donaldson comes at this from the Brahmin school that views the exchange job as public service,” Columbia University Law professor John C. Coffee, Jr. is quoted as saying. "Grasso has worked there his whole career and has a legitimate Horatio Alger story. I don’t think he viewed himself as taking a vow of poverty.”

Grasso apparently felt he should be compensated like a Wall Street CEO, while Donaldson thought he should be paid as a public servant. The dispute, said the Washington Post, "reveals the different styles of the two men. “

What is public service and what does it have to do with you? How are doing on life balance? What are you withholding that's making you weak?

Author's Bio: 

©Susan Dunn, MA Clinical Psychology, The EQ Coach,http://www.susandunn.cc. Susan is the author of“Depression: The Need to Go Within,” and offers coaching,seminars, and distance learning in Emotional Intelligence. Check out the EQ eBook Library –http://www.webstrategies.cc/ebooklibrary.html. Mailto:sdunn@susandunn.cc for FREE eZine.