Memorial Day is a time when we, as Americans, are supposed to remember the people who served in the military and defended the freedoms we enjoy in this country, even at the cost of their very own lives.
The people who have fought to defend their country’s principles are true patriots. However, serving in the military isn’t the only way for Americans to display their patriotism. John F. Kennedy, who would have turned 100 years old on May 29, 2017, also belongs among the pantheon of patriots. His service as a President of the United States for 1,000 days and his skill as an eloquent speaker were remembered at the Kennedy Center on Memorial Day, which fell on May 29 this year.
The celebration started with a choir singing patriotic songs that included “My Country ’Tis of Thee” and “America, The Beautiful.” Then a video appeared of Michelle Obama saying that John F. Kennedy’s legacy included his ability to “lift up every American” and left many Americans inspired. The late president was also remembered for his “courage, optimism and grace.” Considering how enthusiastic the people in the audience were throughout the performance, the positive emotions that John F. Kennedy inspired are still present to this day.
David M. Rubenstein, Chairman of the Boards of Trustees at the Kennedy Center, described the Kennedy Center as “a living memorial to President Kennedy.” He said it is a memorial that serves as a reminder of John F. Kennedy’s legacy. Future plans involve a new building opening as part of the performing arts center, slated to be complete in 2018.
“Today, we celebrate Kennedy and what he did in his 1,000 days,” he said.
Besides Kennedy’s eloquent words, he was also remembered for his actions, which left their mark on American society. He was cited as the first U.S. president to bring into existence significant legislation on civil rights. He was also noted for his ability to make Americans feel safe during the Cold War, which involved a nuclear test ban treaty and the way he dealt with the Cuban Missile Crisis.
A lot of important people showed up for this centennial celebration. One of John F. Kennedy’s descendants was in the audience and so was the Portuguese ambassador, Domingos Fezas Vital. Performing onstage, CNN journalist Dana Bash was there and so was the oft-celebrated soprano singer Renée Fleming. Other people who performed on stage include Andrea Roane, Deborah F. Rutter, Taylor Mac, Finn Wittrock and Chris Jackson.
When the performance issued forth at a rolling pace John F. Kennedy’s progression to the presidency, it is surprising to see that Kennedy wasn’t the type of person who had childhood dreams of becoming President of the United States. Instead, we see someone who has an academic streak – he wrote a book that ended up being published, “Why England Slept,” and he had aspirations to attend Yale Law School. No records indicate that he attended Yale Law School, but he did get awarded a honorary law degree from Yale University in 1962, according to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum website.
The words that stood out during the performance were the following: “To whom much is given, much is required.” John F. Kennedy left behind a legacy that all presidents should aspire to reach. If Kennedy only had 1,000 days to leave a mark, what could he have done with four years, or even eight years? We will never know.