This Memorial Day coincides with the 100th birthday of a U.S. Navy World War II hero and the 35th president of the United States: John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
JFK challenged Americans to serve their nation and to work toward greater equality and justice. He saw hope in the future: "Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans."
Now his daughter, former U.S. ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, is ensuring her father's memory and legacy is remembered and honored. She, herself, is passing the torch to another generation.
Beginning this Memorial Day weekend, Boston's John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is presenting JFK 100: Milestones and Mementos – an opportunity to connect with his life, achievements and ideals.
From the JFK Library: "Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and her children, Rose, Tatiana, and Jack, reflect on how 100 years after his birth, their father and grandfather continues to inspire others to work, fight, and believe in a better world."
Caroline Kennedy is author or editor of numerous books on history, constitutional law, poetry and patriotism.
Here are some poems for the next generation from her beautiful compilation, "Poems to Learn by Heart" (Disney Hyperion, 2013), with paintings by Jon J Muth. This sampling is selected for Memorial Day, as we remember service members who gave their lives for our freedom and in service to their nation.
Shiloh: A Requiem, April 1862
Skimming lightly, wheeling still,
The swallows fly low
Over the field in clouded days,
The forest-field of Shiloh—
Over the field where April rain
Solaced the parched ones stretched in pain
Through the pause of night
That followed the Sunday fight
Around the church of Shiloh—
The church so lone, the log-built one,
That echoed to many a parting groan
And natural prayer
Of dying foemen mingled there—
Foemen at morn, but friends at eve—
Fame or country least their care:
(What like a bullet can undeceive!)
But now they lie low,
While over them the swallows skim,
And all is hushed at Shiloh.
What Are Heavy?
What are heavy? sea-sand and sorrow:
What are brief? today and tomorrow:
What are frail? Spring blossoms and youth:
What are deep ? the ocean and truth.
The heart can think of no devotion
Greater than being shore to ocean -
Holding the curve of one position,
Counting an endless repetition.
(Janet S. Wong)
I pledge acceptance
of the views,
that make us America
To listen, to look,
to think, and to learn
sharing the earth responsible
We remember JFK, his strong connection with the Navy, and his pursuit of "liberty and justice for all" on his 100th birthday with these photos:
|President John F. Kennedy's visits the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, April 1962 and looks through the periscope aboard USS Thomas Edison (SSBN-610). |
(Photo from National Archives.)
|President John F. Kennedy (center) speaks with U.S. Navy SEAL team members on the pier at Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia, before boarding the USS Northampton (CC-1) for an overnight cruise to view U.S. Atlantic Fleet exercises. (JFK Library)|
|USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) Underway during carrier airwing qualifications in the Northern Puerto Rican Operations Area, December 10, 1996. (Photo by PH2c Scott A. Moak, USN. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, NHHC.)|