On January 20, 1961, newly inaugurated President John F. Kennedy gave the famous quote, "And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." This has become one of the most recognizable quotes in the history of the United States. To understand the meaning, one needs to consider the context of the times as well.
Kennedy was the youngest elected President in US history and, in some ways, a long shot as a Catholic. The quote, which was written years before, became the climax of the new Kennedy term. He used it as a unification statement for the American people during a contested campaign. Remember, Kennedy's religion was a dividing factor among many voters.
Another important issue to consider is that it means exactly what it says. Kennedy is telling the people to essentially forget about yourself and worry about what you can do for your fellow citizens. It is a simple idea, and one that, I would argue, makes the country stronger. It calls for the focus to be on the collective good,+ rather than individual wants and needs. Kennedy understood that the path to a greater America was one paved by collectivity and compassion.