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Posts Tagged ‘John F Kennedy’

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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After what I have called my year of transition (new house, new job, new car),  I was really looking to escape where I could leave all the craziness of my life behind for a couple of days. My aha moment came when I recalled a quote referencing Cape Cod by Henry David Thoreau, ” A man may stand there and put all America behind him”.  Despite the fact that “putting it all behind” most probably wasn’t possible traveling with three boys, I was intrigued to explore the Cape.

Pirate's Cove Adventure GolfExploring the Cape is exactly what we did, with of course a little down time by the pool each day. Our first night into town we enjoyed mini-golf at Pirate’s Cove in South Yarmouth which is most probably shocking to many, since I am always planning learning experiences for our trips. It was really crowded since it has a reputation of being one of the best miniature golf course on Cape Cod.  Their reputation is well deserved, the crowds moved quickly and the course was entertaining for my pirate loving crew.  If you asked my son what his favorite part of the trip was he most probably will tell you it was at Pirate Cove when he hit a hole in one unintentionally!  Yes the ball went out of the green, bounced off the stairway and back onto the green in the hole!

Our second day in Cape Cod covered the learning category when we visited the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum and the John F. Kennedy Memorial.  The four of us headed into the museum for a whopping $7.50.  Not surprisingly, my son loved learning more about one of his favorite presidents. There was a quick film which really put everything into perspective for my young nephews and after the viewing they were trying to follow the Kennedy family tree on the wall to identify family members that they had just learned about.

Of course the museum is small, so we filled the rest of the day with two tours.  First we went to the Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory.  This was FREE!  It only took about 15 minutes, but it was cool for the boys to see the progression of potato to the chip, then to the bag and ultimately boxing the bags to be shipped out.  They learned cool facts like it takes approximately 4 pounds of potatoes to make 1 pound of potato chips, because the potato is mainly water.  They munched on the “Kettle-Cooked” samples while chatting with one of the friendly employees while I purchased a couple of bags to take home.  It was a good time.

Only a couple of blocks away from the JFK Hyannis Museum, we discovered  Cape Cod Duckmobiles.  My son and I had done a Duck Tour in Boston and loved it, so I had to do it again so my nephews could experience the amphibious vehicle.  Honestly, there was not a lot to point out, but the guides were humorous and kept the boys entertained and they were thrilled when we “splashed down” into Hyannis Harbor.  If you take the tour don’t expect to see the Kennedy compound, but you do get to see the church the Kennedy family frequented and the armory where JFK made his speech during the election.

After our busy morning, the boys played in the pool while I tried to have a “Thoreau” moment before heading to catch a little “summer baseball”.  The Cape Cod Baseball League is a collegiate summer baseball league.  We decided to watch the Hyannis Harbor Hawks play the Brewster Whitecaps.  I have been to countless baseball games, but this was one of the most enjoyable games.  It is not because the Harbor Hawks won or the game was FREE, but because it was like I had stepped back in time where the boys could roam freely during the game without worry and at the end of it all, go onto the field and approach the players.  I wish we could have gone to more games!

Another highlight of the trip was taking the boys on a Pirate Adventure.  The Pirate Adventure was also not educational, but it was too much FUN not to mention.  First, I must give kudos to the staff.  I had made a mistake with my online reservation and had bought tickets for Monday instead of Sunday.  Considering that we would be back in New York on Monday, I was happy that they  honored our reservations on Sunday!  My son who is twelve was a little old for this adventure, but the Captain befriended him and gave him the ins and out of the operation while my nephews were having the time of their life!  The boys had their faces painted and wore costumes as we sailed off on The Sea Gypsy.  The whole experience was so much fun!  I was crying I was laughing so hard as the kids were shooting the water cannons on the side of the ship at a pirate who was trying the take the treasure that belong to the crew of their ship.  From figuring out the treasure map to doing the limbo it was nothing short of a great time.  It was one of the most expensive things we did at $21 a ticket, but well worth it!

We ended our trip with a visit to the Cape Cod National Seashore.  This year the Cape Cod National Seashore celebrates it’s 50th anniversary of when President Kennedy  signed legislation to protect the seashore and making it a part of the U.S. National Park System.  We visited the Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham first and the boys participated in a FREE shellfishing demonstration and were ready to go clamming when we left.  We then headed to Nauset Light Beach which is also in Eastham.  We toured the Nauset Lighthouse, the one that is pictured on the Cape Cod Potato Chip Bag.  The tour was FREE and the boys learned the history of the lighthouse and the battle of the erosion that forced the lighthouse to be moved more than once.  The Nauset Lighthouse was our last stop on Cape Cod before heading home.  It was a perfect place to end our trip and I didn’t realize it until we had climbed the stairs and looked out the window to a magnificent view of the ocean.  It was at that moment I found my self ” standing there”  and literally could “put America behind me”.  I shared this with the boys, and even at the ages of 12, 9 and 7 they got it!  I hope one day you will be able to experience what Thoreau described in the 1800’s and what my family experienced in 2011.  Cape Cod turned out to be a great escape.

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