JFK did not tour the world, apologizing for America's role in the Cold War. He did not propose to cooperate with socialist dictators while they undermined democracies in our hemisphere. And when nuclear missiles were deployed to Cuba, he acted decisively to counter the threat. In short, he saw America as the unique defender of liberty and democracy in the world, a force for good.
The man pictured below (my father-in-law) had just returned home to his family from a Mediterranean deployment, when the crap hit the fan in October 1962. Uncomplaining, (well, as uncomplaining as sailors ever get), he went back out to sea. He spent days lugging five inch shells and getting a ship ready for WAR, because it didn't matter what your regular job was, everyone knew how deadly serious it all was.
His ship, the Harlan R. Dickson, was among the many vessels enforcing a quarantine against Cuba that prevented the proliferation of nuclear missiles so close to our shores. The strategy was both bold and brilliant and succeeded in convincing the Soviets to remove the missiles. Kennedy had this to say at the time:
To halt this offensive buildup, a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba is being initiated. All ships of any kind bound for Cuba from whatever nation and port will, if found to contain cargoes of offensive weapons, be turned back. This quarantine will be extended, if needed, to other types of cargo and carriers. We are not at this time, however, denying the necessities of life as the Soviets attempted to do in their Berlin blockade of 1948.
To this day, my father-in-law is proud of the efforts of his shipmates in turning back a grave threat to our country. Mr. President, I know that the torch has been passed to a new generation of warriors, every bit as patriotic as that Chief Petty Officer. You should know you can count on them in times of direst need and for that reason, you need not be afraid, and you need not apologize to the enemies of liberty and democracy.