What I love so much about this iconic figure is that he represented youth and hope for a whole new generation. He embodied the American dream. This man was intelligent, had a very beautiful personality and a lot of charisma.
As a young man, he had a taste for adventure. In July 1937, at the age of 20, he toured Europe with his friend Lem Bellings. Then, in May 1939, he was entrusted by his father, then ambassador in England, with an observation mission across Europe in a context where war was eminent. He starts with Poland and then visits Russia, Romania, Turkey, the Middle East to finish his trip with Greece. He comes back with a lot of information.
Then it was World War II. He enlisted in the Navy. With his health problems and relationships, he could have been content with an office job. Instead, he insists on actively participating in the combats. In March 1943, he took command of a vedette-boat, the PT-109 (Patrol Torpedo Boat). In early August 1943, his boat was cut in half and sunk by a Japanese destroyer. He managed to rescue his crew to a small island. In June 1944, he was awarded the Navy Corps Medal along with the Purple Heart Medal.
Having become President at the age of 43, he worked on very important issues: relations with Cuba (failed landing at the Bay of Pigs), the Cold War with the USSR, the civil rights issue, the Cuban missile crisis, the space program and the conflict in Vietnam.
John F. Kennedy had an extremely interesting life. His assassination, which is shrouded in mystery, ended a presidency that could have lasted another five years. He could have accomplished so much more. He has become an important figure in American history. And that’s the whole point of reading and documenting it.
When friends visit my office, I am often told, « It’s all very well to have recreated President Kennedy’s desk, but where does this interest in JFK come from? »
My interest, or rather « my passion » for President Kennedy, comes from my earliest childhood.
The first event that marked me occurred when we moved to the family home on November 25, 1963. I was only three years old at the time. Despite my very young age, I have two memories of that day. There was a smell of wax in my new bedroom and the TV was on in the living room. I didn’t know why the TV was on, but my mother explained to me much later that she didn’t want to miss anything from the broadcast of President Kennedy’s funeral. I was young, but subconsciously, maybe that played a role in my interest in the President.
Then, in the family room in the basement, my father hung a black and white picture of President Kennedy on the wall. Obviously, I looked at this picture very often.
My father was a man fond of history. I remember enjoying sitting next to him when he was watching reports about President Kennedy. Even though I couldn’t understand one word of English, I was still watching with a lot of interest.
Later, I began to read books about President Kennedy, his family and of course the multiple theories about his assassination. Also, I’ve always enjoyed watching movies, documentaries and TV shows related to President Kennedy.
I then made a pilgrimage. In the summer of 2009, I went to Boston, Massachusetts where I visited the house where President Kennedy was born, the Massachusetts State House and the Presidential Library. I also visited the JFK Museum in Hyannis Port.
In the spring of 2009, I went to Rideau Hall on the Grounds of the Governor General of Canada in Ottawa to see the oak that the President had planted in 1961.
And of course, in July 2008, I went to Dallas, Texas to see where it all ended. For two hours, I sat on the Grassy Knoll on Dealey Plaza and projected myself back in time, on November 22, 1963. Then I thought about how I would have reacted if I had been there that day.
My pilgrimage is not over. One day, I will travel to Washington where I will visit Georgetown, the Capitol, the White House and Arlington Cemetery.
Finally, in 2014, I set myself the goal of recreating President Kennedy’s desk as it was in the Oval Office in 1963. Today, I can say, « Mission accomplished. »
My Oval Office is my workspace, my reading room and my relaxation room. I love listening to music while rocking in the President’s chair.
But I have a new dream. The one to welcome Mrs. Caroline Kennedy and her son Jack home for a cocktail in my little Oval Office.
Who knows ? Life is full of surprises… and we are all entitled to have dreams, as improbable as they might be !