Heather's Hangout

Sharing the people, places & little moments that make a difference.

Visiting the John F. Kennedy presidential museum October 12, 2017

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Campaign banner from Detroit!

It’s been several years since I visited Boston, one of my favorite cities. So I was excited to travel to this harbor town last weekend for a conference. I decided to head there a little early to enjoy exploring.

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Amazing weather greeted me when I arrived mid-morning at the hotel. A seamless check-in to the hotel provided awesome views of the city. It was time to enjoy the day!

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I love history and exploring new places so was excited to learn that Boston is home to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. I decided this would be first stop in my exploration. John F. Kennedy became the 35th president on Jan. 20, 1961, the youngest president (43 years) and the first Catholic. He is a president I grew up hearing much about. Of course his assassination, and conspiracy theories, fill American history. Movies, books, stories. But he is also a president who served and led during important moments of our country’s story – racial desegregation, the Cuban missile crisis, advancement of mental health care, creation of the Peace Corps and many other important historical moments.

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“A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.” ~ President John F. Kennedy

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I love learning about history and cultures. And our presidents, love them, hate them or you really want to forget them, play a significant role in shaping our country. It was very interesting and inspiring to walk through the museum, reading transcripts of

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Transcript clips from inauguration speech

interviews and speeches; seeing gifts and items collected by JFK and Jackie Kennedy through their time in the White House; watching clips of speeches, debates and foreign trips. It was powerful to watch the video of his inaugural speech with the typed transcript near it highlighting where he changed words as he spoke. We learn about the presidents through history classes in school, and JFK’s death is a major piece, but I liked learning more about other moments in this time.

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A replica exhibit of Robert Kennedy’s office of the Attorney General showed the blunt challenge of the Civil Rights movement, that truly continues in today’s divisive political climate. Robert was the youngest attorney general at 41 since 1814. But he was aggressive in fighting for equality, young people and a strong justice department to stop crime and corruption.

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“We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution.” ~ President John F. Kennedy

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The museum also features Jackie Kennedy, who became first lady at 31 years old. She was a big supporter of arts and culture, working to restore and preserve the White House by establishing a White House Fine Arts Committee, and the position of White House curator.

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Campaigning for JFK

President Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963 in Texas. The shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, was arrested, but killed by Jack Ruby the following day. There have been lots of conspiracy theories about his death.

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“It is not what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to me, but what kind of America I believe in.” ~ President John F. Kennedy

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May 29, 2017 marked the 100th birthday of John F. Kennedy. A special exhibit, JFK 100: Milestones & Mementosfocuses on historic milestones in President Kennedy’s life by featuring 100 artifacts, photographs and documents. Some of the items include handwritten notes, a suitcase used by JFK during a 1960 road campaign, and a few of his neckties.

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I always enjoy visiting our country’s historical sites as it’s a good way to remember what we’ve been through, survived and should learn from so we don’t repeat our disappointing or scary moments (and yet, history does repeat itself).

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The library and museum overlook the water, fitting since JFK was an avid boater. After my museum visit, I walked along the paved trail, thoroughly enjoying the breeze while watching boats in the water. A beautiful day.

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For hours and admission information, visit the library and museum’s website.

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Community theater brings “Leaving Iowa” play home November 16, 2015

LeavingIowaI love attending plays and musicals. I’m in awe of people who can act out scenes, portray characters with emotion and credibility, and get on stage in front of a crowd. I love the creative sets and fun costumes that many plays utilize to take the audience to the world of the play. Community theater can bring these items to the local public, often at a lower cost than big-budget Broadway shows. My husband and I recently enjoyed a play at the Ridgedale Players, a small community theater in Troy.

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I’ve driven or walked by the theater hundreds of times so when my husband suggested we catch an upcoming play, I thought it was a great idea. Ridgedale Players started in 1931, making it one of the oldest community theaters in Michigan. The theater holds approximately 120 seats, along with a small room near the entrance where patrons can mingle and purchase snacks and drinks.

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We purchased tickets to see the current play, Leaving Iowa. The plot centers around Don Browning who returns to his childhood home to take his father’s ashes to the family farm. The story toggles between the present day road trip and memories of family vacations.  The play is both comedic and sentimental. Overall, I thought it was well-done and the actors did a good job.

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Some of the most entertaining parts included ‘flashbacks’ during one of the family’s trips. The actors portraying Don and his sister did an excellent and entertaining job bringing those characters to life, as did the actors playing their parents. I think I laughed the most during a scene where the mother is driving and the dad (sitting in the passenger seat) reaches over to honk the horn. Her reaction is classic and reminded me of personal driving experiences with my husband!

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The play’s story line brought back many memories and nostalgia of childhood family trips: My sisters and I sitting in the backseat, Mom and Dad in the front, the antics between sisters, my older sister sleeping with her mouth open, my dad threatening to ‘pull this car over’ if we didn’t behave. When I look back now as an adult, I recognize those family vacations as more than just that – they were definitely adventures that we were creating as a family.

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Where I thankfully differ from the character of Don is that my dad never hesitated to tell us how much he loved us or how proud he was, and I know that he knew he was one of my heroes. On the day of his death, I can confidently say that while we could have spoken so many more words, we knew how we felt about each other and there was plenty of love. My biggest regret is that he is not still here to make new memories and go on new adventures with our family, and that we can no longer feel his strong arms around us in a hug.

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One interesting note: The play discusses the center of the contiguous United States, which the U.S. Geographical Survey determined to be near Lebanon, Kansas (closer to the Kansas-Nebraska border). If you’re in the area, a marker and American flag highlight the area.

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What was the last play you saw?

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Leaving Iowa runs through Nov. 22, 2015 at the Ridgedale Players. Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased by calling (248) 988-7049 or online at www.ridgedaleplayers.com.

 

 
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