JFK: An Idea to Last a Lifetime
I am embarrassed to admit that until this January, I had not been to the Boston museum closest to my house. Stepping out on my back balcony, just a look over Dorchester Bay puts me eye to eye with the John F. Kennedy Museum and Archives. In my lightest month of travel all year, the JFK Museum was the perfect destination to kick off my #take12trips challenge. The official memorial to JFK was designed by the architect I.M. Pei and opened to the public in 1979. The museum for the 35th president is an impressive legacy for a man who only served 1,036 days in office before he was assassinated. Young, energetic, and charismatic, he inspired an entire generation to give more of their time and more of their ideas to their country.
The museum is laid out in chronological order of JFK’s life and starts with stories from his early years. Filling the room is a desk donated from his high school, relics from his influential trips to Europe in college and stories from his summers sailing his boat, Victura. His love of sailing and all things maritime brought him to enlist in the Navy during World War II where he eventually became a lieutenant and earned a Purple Heart. The experience changed him and after initially going into journalism, he began to follow his destiny into politics.
The museum winds its way to the 1960 Campaign trail with clips of JFK (with a thick Boston accent) debating Richard Nixon in historic film footage of the first televised presidential debate. Post-victory, a mock White House appears before you, highlighting the undertakings of his short presidency. Notable accomplishments line the halls of the “White House,” including separate rooms for the creation of the Peace Corps, and the investments in the US Space Program to keep on pace with the Soviet Union. Turning the corner brings one face to face with the Civil Rights Movement and the efforts JFK took to pass meaningful legislation. One of his most well known speeches plays next, the address at the Berlin Wall, reminding Berliners that the US was behind their fight for freedom.
Lighter topics of how he supported the First Lady’s love of culture and arts to champion their progression, his trip to Ireland to visit the land of his ancestors and home videos with his children give a view into his personal life.
The next corner is the last and the darkest in President Kennedy’s 1,036 days in office. The news reports from Dallas are rolling with updates of the shots fired at the president. The screens go black and the next turn is the legacy he left behind. The quick end of the museum is symbolic for the sudden end of the JFK’s life and presidency.
His presidency had vigor and intensity and his magnetism in his public appearances is palpable. In the brief time given to President Kennedy in the White House he accomplished more than many presidents have in two terms. He fought for equal rights, promoted a strategy of peace, started the Peace Corps, and inspired the American people to be courageous and selfless.
“A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.” – John F. Kennedy
I am grateful for the #take12trips challenge for forcing me to cross Dorchester Bay to the JFK Museum after living across from it for four years, and reminding me that even when I am not traveling out of the state or the country, that some of the best things to see are right in my own neighborhood.