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John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum, Boston

This week I thought a lot about a period of history that took place before I was even born.  The life and accomplishments of our 35th President, John F. Kennedy was on my mind because his wife and former First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy’s soft-spoken voice accompanied me in my car  through my travels of the week.  I purchased Jacqueline Kennedy, Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy a week ago.  As I listened to the recorded CDs that accompanied the book, I enjoyed hearing her reflect on the past of her husband’s political life.  She reminded me of many things I learned when my son and I visited the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston and the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum.

One thing I remember from reading the book Presidential Courage by Michael Beschloss was that Mrs. Kennedy had stated that “history made JFK who he was”.   The President had spent a lot of time reading as a young boy when he had been sick.  He believed “history was full of heroes”.  It was important to Mrs. Kennedy that her husband’s life be studied by “other little boys”.

Four years ago when my “little boy” was introduced to social studies in the third grade he became fascinated  with the American Presidents.  He still remains intrigued and loves to learn about the Presidents and American History.  Visiting the JFK museums in Boston and Hyannis served as a great place to bring the years of President Kennedy to life for my son.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy becoming president.  The anniversary serves a great opportunity to visit the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.  There are wonderful exhibits that can teach kids about the importance of public service and human rights. They also will learn how our generation is still  reaping the benefits of JFK’s decisions regarding science and the environment.  If you can’t make it to Boston, your kids can always learn about President Kennedy by visiting  www.JFK50.org.

John F. Kennedy wrote about many heroes in his book Profiles in Courage.  Visiting these museums will allow your children to learn that John F. Kennedy was the epitome of courage.  One of his greatest lessons was to “take a stand” for what is right.  My son realized after learning about President Kennedy that it is everyone’s responsibility to encourage peace and equality.  A good lesson for today’s world.

Visiting the exhibit of the campaign trail.

In 1961, JFK pledged that America would land a man on the moon. My son by John Glen's 1962 space suit.

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Nestled among the skyscrapers of Boston still lies the preserved colonial times of some of America’s historical icons like Samuel Adams and Paul Revere.  From 1761 to 1775, Boston forged America’s identify.  When my son and I visited Boston, it was wonderful to visit the sites of the Freedom Trail the way John Adams might have walked through the colonial town of Boston. The Freedom Trail is a red brick path that winds through downtown Boston linking sixteen of the city’s historic landmarks from the first major battle of the American Revolution and to the many historical giants that espoused freedom.

We started at the visitor information center in the Boston Common.  Majority of the sites are run by the National Park Service We were delighted to learn that majority of the admissions were free.  There was an admission for the Old South Meeting House, the Old State House Museum and Paul Revere’s house since they are privately run. Admission is $13 for adults and $3 for kids which includes all three buildings.  The U.S.S. Constitution Museum also had an admission fee of $5 for adults and $2 for children.

After speaking with a park ranger and learning the admission fees we picked up our map and journeyed back in time by following the red brick road that led us to …

Boston Common – America’s oldest public park. The 44 acres has served as a place to graze livestock until 1830, a training field during the American Revolution and a place of celebration when the repeal of the Stamp Act and the end of the Revolutionary War.

Boston Common

Massachusetts State House – The State House was built as a new center of state governance shortly after the revolution and is still used today by the senators, state representatives, and governor as they conduct daily business of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Massachusetts State House

Park Street Church – This site on the Freedom Trail is known for political, social and humanitarian issues.  Prison reform, woman’s suffrage support and protest against slavery all happened in this church.

Old Granary Burial Ground – Some of Boston’s most famous revolutionaries were buried here.  Three men who signed the Declaration of Independence – John Hancock, Samuel Adams and Robert Treat Pain.  Paul Revere and victims of the Boston Massacre were also buried here.

King’s Chapel and Burying Ground – This burying-ground is older than Old Granary Burial Ground, in fact it is older than Boston itself.  Buried here was Massachusetts’ first Governor, John Wintrhop and Mary Chilton, the first woman to step off the Mayflower.

First Public School – Established in 1635, as the name suggest this is our country’s first public school.  Benjamin Franklin attend classes here before he dropped out.

Old Corner Bookstore Building – Initially this building was an apothecary shop.  In 1828 it became a bookstore and printing shop and publisher Ticker and Fields published great works of Longfellow, Hawthorne and Emerson to name a few.

Old South Meeting House – This building held meetings that set the stage of some of the most dramatic events leading to the American Revolution.  One of those meetings led to the Boston Tea Party which sparked the Revolutionary War.

Old State Meeting House

Old State House – Before the Revolution, the Old State House was the seat of British Government.  After the American Revolution it served as the first capital building.

Old State House

Boston Massacre Site – Right outside of the Old State house is the site of the Boston Massacre where five colonist were killed by British troops.  This of course is known to be one of the catalytic events that led to the American Revolutionary War.

Boston Massacre Site

Fanuell Hall – Also known as the “Cradle of Liberty, this main market place served as a meeting place where Samuel Adams tried to convince fellow colonist to unite and fight against the British.

Faneuil Hall

Paul Revere House – This is the oldest house in downtown Boston and is the house that Paul Revere lived in when he made his famous “midnight ride” to warn the minutemen in Lexington of the arrival of British troops.

Old North Church – It was here that lanterns were hung by Robert Newman, sexton of the Old North Church to signal Paul Revere that the British troops had arrived by sea.

Copp’s Hill Burying Ground – The second oldest burying-ground where many early colonist are buried.  Robert Newman is also buried here.

USS Constitution – Old Ironsides was built in 1797, the oldest war ship of the U.S. Navy is moored here at one of the country’s first ship yards.

U.S.S Constitution

Having a drink with friends at the Museum at the U.S.S. Constitution Museum

Bunker Hill Monument – The last stop on the Freedom Trail is the Bunker Hill Monument.  This monument commemorates the battle of June 17, 1775 between the British and colonial forces.  The British won the battle, but were later forced out by George Washington’s troops nine months later.

Bunker Hill Monument

Last stop on the Freedom Trail

Have you visited The Freedom Trail with your children?  I am sure glad I brought my son.  Experiencing the Cradle of Liberty first hand hopefully, will allow him never to forget what the Sons of Liberty accomplished for future generations which includes our family.  Not to mention those first hand lessons came in pretty handy during 7th grade American History class.

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