Monday, May 29, 2006

TDIH: Brookline, Mass.

Appropriately, this Memorial Day, as many have before, fell on the birthday of President John F. Kennedy. Now, I spent much of the weekend on a travel bus and am thoroughly exhausted which includes not knowing what day it is. We were a few miles from home when I realized today was the 29th of May, a very important day to me.

I was chatting with a young man who I completely love and admire when it dawned on me that today would have been President Kennedy's 89th birthday. The young man sitting next to me was a little less than thrilled to know that fact, but as he and I have had many a conversation about Kennedy, he was certainly not surprised by me remembering such a thing after the longest weekend EVER. He made some quip about me not being able to remember phone numbers or the birthdays of family and friends, yet having no problem with historical dates. I told him that history isn't just about dates and he would have a greater appreciation for history if he would have had wonderful history teachers, like I had. It reminded me of something I read at the beginning of the trip:
What I am saying is that it needed other dimensions, that history is not a matter of dates, and only disreputable or unimaginative teachers take the "impartial" date approach, thereby killing all interest in the subject at a very early age for many students. --Whitney Otto, How to Make an American Quilt (pg. 2)

89 years ago a man was born in Brookline, Massachusetts to a legendary family that had yet to reach maximum potential. 89 years ago a man was born who would lead this country through a failed invasion of Cuba, a missile crisis, and would point us in direction of the moon.

Without a string of influential history teachers and professors (and most importantly the gift of one book), a man born 89 years ago may never have even occupied more than a second of my time.

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