Surprising insights from a John F Kennedy Library visit

Posted on October 27, 2011


John F Kennedy Library

My two best friends and I are on a library kick and we’re trying to get more culture in our lives. This past weekend we visited the John F. Kennedy Library in South Boston. We initially planned to go because they were going to have a special exhibit about Jackie Kennedy Onassis, not so much because of an interest in John F. Kennedy.

I’ll be honest, my recollections of President Kennedy tend toward the tape of Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday” to him. I’ll also admit that my political leanings are more to the right than those of President Kennedy.

All that being said, I was curious about President Kennedy. I didn’t know that

  •  he fulfilled a campaign promise to start the Peace Corps
  •  he actively expanded space exploration
  •  he developed a “National Plan to Combat Mental Retardation.”

I love history! We never got beyond the Civil War in school, so anything after that I’ve had to learn on my own.

Those facts aside, I also learned some surprising life lessons from my museum vist. The life lessons that I learned:

1. Write down what you need to get done, no matter how mundane.

Among the many preserved papers of President Kennedy were his “To Do Lists.” They included important tasks related to running the country and to meeting with heads of state, but they also included more mundane tasks like, “check seating for family dinner.” All of the tasks were written as a few word task. Mmmm, if this is good enough for President Kennedy, it should work for me.

2. Stay curious.

John F. Kennedy loved to write and he kept this up throughout his political career. Being a political figure can consume your life, but he didn’t let it. I also love to write and while my job may not allow me to write as much as I would like, I can still keep up my blogging.

3. Leave a legacy.

Most of us don’t have the Kennedy money or name cachet, but we can all leave this world a better place. I mentor students. While this isn’t solvoing world hunger or helping with world peace, I’m making a difference in the lives of some students.

4. Keep an open mind.

Kennedy may not have been the upright, Camelot figurehead that was portrayed by the media, but he did do a lot of good for this country. I came away from the museum with a burning curiosity to learn more about other public figures.

What experiences have you had where you were surprised by what you learned?

Photo of John F. Kennedy Library, courtesy of Boston PhotoSphere’s Flickr Photostream, under Creative Commons Licensing.

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