Fifty years later, millions of people are looking back on the tragic events that left an indelible mark on the nation: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. The John F. Kennedy Library, however, wants to look forward as well.
The JFK Library set up a website on Monday inviting people to submit stories in honor of Kennedy, called An Idea Lives On after the former president’s famous quote, “A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.”
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But this website is not just for people who remember where they were when Kennedy died: The initiative is an “interactive documentary” that welcomes people of all ages to submit their stories. “So many people today look back 50 years ago on that tragic day in Dallas – we wanted to provide an opportunity for people to have a more hopeful conversation today and to look forward and think about how President Kennedy’s ideals and the ideas he championed continue to live on today,” said Rachel Del Flor, director of communications for the JFK Library.
The site is not restricted to stories about the event and invites people to share their recollections about how Kennedy inspired them in the fields of art, civil rights, culture, education, public service and space. People are invited to share stories through any medium they prefer, including video, pictures and event tweets.
In a video on the site, Christine Liu, a high school student at Choate Rosemary Hall, played Brahms' Sonata in F Minor on her viola and explained that the phrases of the piece keep the music moving forward. Liu said the phrases reminded her how generations change and push forward Kennedy’s ideas.
Del Flor said young people are an important part of the project. “Our hope is that you wouldn’t have to have lived during President Kennedy’s time to be inspired by him today,” she said. “We want to really create a multigeneration conversation on the website and for people to make connections for young people to learn about the important issues of the 1960s and how President Kennedy played a role in taking on some of those challenges. We want young people to get a better understanding of how they might learn from the way President Kennedy handled some of those issues and take on the issues of our time.”
The JFK Library will post some of the best submissions on its website starting today, and all appropriate submissions will become part of the library’s permanent collection in its archives.
Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark