The fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President John F Kennedy is fast upon us. Kennedy was the nation’s 35th President, and was gunned down in Dallas on November 22, 1963. As the youngest man to fill the most powerful political position in the country, and arguably of the world, until that time, Kennedy was seen as a symbol of hope, change, and new ideas. He was often compared to the mythical King Arthur and his administration to the utopian realm of Arthur, Camelot. His early death and the sudden end to his presidency sent the country into deep mourning, disillusionment, and confusion.
Now it is fifty years since that monumental day when so much changed in the
country, and the Shapell Manuscript Foundation is remembering Kennedy with a special exhibit remembering the legacy of President John F. Kennedy entitled, “The Fading Light of Camelot.” Running from November 1, 2013 until January 2, 2014, it will be held at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland.
One small example of the many documents which will be on display as part of the exhibition is a letter written by JFK right before he left on his trip to the west, but which did not arrive until the day after the President’s funeral. The letter was post-dated to November 26 because it was a birthday note to Congressman Daniel J. Flood, sent several days before with the intention of arriving on the congressman’s birthday. Little did Kennedy or anyone else know at the time that November 26 would be the day after Kennedy’s own funeral. Needless to say, because of the peculiar dating of the note, the letter is extremely rare.
When we take our annual break we don’t budget. We figure we work hard all year round (well, Daniel does) and so we deserve to relax in style. With that mindset, tonight we’re off to L‘Aromate for what we heard is a real fine dining experience. I checked it out online and it looks amazing. The food really looks like a work of art and it has a great reputation for having an extremely talented owner-chef.
Daniel is going to try the Pigeon du Lauragais rôti à la sarriette et foie gras de canard grillé. I know that he loves foie gras and hardly ever gets it so I’m sure he’ll love this dish. I don’t know what I’m going to have for my main but I definitely want to try the chocolat noir guanaja Dans un tube craquant, noisettes caramélisées, crème glacée au café grillé, émulsion vanillée. Not quite sure what it all means but there’s chocolate, caramelized nuts, cream, coffee and vanilla flavors so really, what could be bad? Sometimes I think it’s good not knowing exactly what you’re getting – it takes the predictability out of life. Anyway the fact that this restaurant has great reviews and the setting is said to be intimate is enough to make me salivate…
So I finally had some time for myself, on a Sunday afternoon. This hardly ever happens because usually at least one of the kids is demanding something over the weekend. But two days ago, the kids were playing really nicely so I was able to just sit and relax. So I took the opportunity to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes – American history.
I used to read American history all the time but, since having the kids have had less time. Now though, in the last few months, I have gotten back to it somewhat and am currently up to John F. Kennedy. Apart from my own history books, I was recently learning about connected items from the Shapell Manuscript Foundation. It seems that the Foundation has in its possession a letter that he wrote to a Miss Forbush following the condolences John received on the untimely death of his brother. He wrote: Thanks so much for your thoughtfulness in sending me those prayers at the time of my brothers death. They were a great help, and I want you to know how much I appreciated it.
So having read this letter, I wanted to know more about the relationship Joseph had with John, especially given the fact that I have two boys myself. I have to admit that I was quite shocked, that, given that I’m a full-bred American, I had absolutely no idea about how and why Kennedy came to power. In my investigation, I found out that it was actually his brother Joseph P. Kennedy who was slated for the world of politics. But he was brought to his premature death when the plane that was taking him on a secret mission suddenly exploded. Given that his father had been grooming Joseph to be America’s next President and on that fateful trip that dream exploded, John F. Kennedy – the less smart, less popular, less attractive and younger brother – had to step up.
So as I was watching my boys begin to rough and tumble, I wondered what impact my expectations – subconscious as they might be – would have on them in the future. I certainly hope that neither boy ends up feeling how John clearly did – less attractive, less popular and less smart than the other.
Anyway it’s interesting to learn about the leaders of our country in this way; focusing on their personalities, their relationships with each other and with their parents. For me personally it really helps put a spin on how human they were and, of course, how I can assist my own children develop their particular strengths.
I’m looking forward to the next bit of quiet time I get to learn more. I thought it was so cool that I stumbled upon this through the Shapell Manuscript Foundation – who knows what else there might be!
Despite the fact that Daniel and I don’t hold by any particular religion, we do feel it is important to teach our children a sense of doing good by helping those in need. So when I read about a few parishes getting together to collect over 140 tons of food (or money to purchase it), I jumped on the bandwagon and got my family to follow suit, putting religion aside completely.
This food is going to help those in need that are aided by Neighborhood House, SW Portland. Apparently it’s an especially important time to help these people – just after the holiday season. The parishes involved are: St. John Fisher, St. Clare and St. Thomas More. Another thing that appealed to me was the fact that it’s not just Parish congregants who are involved but Jewish and Muslims too – so it’s totally not a religious-based thing which is important to me and Daniel. It has been going since 2007 but, given that according to Neighborhood House’s executive director Rick Nitti, the State of Oregon witnessed a 2 percent increase in poverty last year (as compared to nationwide figures that did not experience any escalation), this is a great year for us to start getting involved in such a project.
I was so excited for the weekend. I’d been looking forward to the Wild Arts Festival for weeks! But I had no idea just how crowded it would be. I later found out that it was due to the 6×6 Wild Art Project that caused the crowd to “flock” (excuse the pun) to the scene.
It was pretty cool actually. Especially since the decorated tiles were done by local artists. There was a book signing and silent auction, all hosted by the Audubon Society of Portland. Jayden – who’s very into nature – really enjoyed it; everything there was somehow connected to nature.
Daniel loved the education birds as a couple of them made a comfortable landing spot in his arm. Ethan got a real kick out of watching that and yelped in delight! They were so mellow; it was cool.
Even though it was more crowded than I originally anticipated, I’m glad we made this a family day out. It was something so different from our usual Friday activities: fun, interesting and educational all at the same time!