The Importance of The John F Kennedy Memorial Plaza

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"The John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza"is found in Dallas on the market street and in between Commercial and Main Street, 200 yards from the site where the former US president was assassinated. The memorial is a simple structure made up of 50 by 50 feet wide and 30 feet high walls that have an open roof. Philip Johnson, an American architect, designed the JFK monument in the shape of an open tomb or cenotaph. The open roof of the memorial plaza is a symbol for the freedom of the spirit of President J.F. Kennedy. The open space was designed for remembrance and reflection of the American President’s great life and his contribution to the growth of the nation. The monument was established to serve as an acknowledgment for the excitement and joy of the former president’s life and not as a tribute for the sorrow and pain of his life. The memorial is made up of extended to the ground columns that serve as legs that appear to be holding the structure. The ends of the columns have the light fixed on them, and at night these lights make the structure look as if it is floating in the air and is held up by invisible forces illustrating the magnetic charisma that J. F. Kennedy demonstrated during his life. This paper describes the location of "The John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza in Dallas,"its importance to the Americans and what could be done to make it more attractive to the tourists and effectively commemorate the slain president.

The John F. Kennedy memorial attracts over half a million visitors annually and is a significant cultural heritage and a landmark in the city of Dallas, important for the country of America and the world at large. The memorial is a tribute to President J.F. Kennedy, an extraordinary man who dedicated his life to serving people and was willing to sacrifice his life for the greater good of America. My visit to the JF Kennedy memorial was enjoyable as it brought back the memories of the eventful day when the country lost its great leader being assassinated by a gunman 200 yards from this site. The memorial reminds us of the violent event that led to the tearing of the country's social fabric. On my way to the monument, I realized that the sidewalks on both sides had granite markers with inscriptions that were identical. These inscriptions are "The joy and excitement of John Fitzgerald Kennedy's life belonged to all men,"and "[This] is not a memorial to the pain and sorrow of his death, but stands as a permanent tribute to the joy and excitement of one man's life"(Glynn). These granite markers carry a great message of hope for the Americans in honor of the slain hero. The inscription does not only remind the Americans of the memories of the slain legend and history of assassination, but also induces the charisma and spirituality of the former president JF Kennedy. It is quiet inside the cenotaph and there is a place for contemplation. At the midst of the room, there is a granite slab bearing the three names of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy written in gold and the slab is surrounded by concrete walls that seem to float freely in the air. This emptiness brings about a feeling of loss that America and the entire world experienced as a result of the assassination of the president on 22nd of November in 1963 (Starkey 719).

The memorial was built at the cost of $ 200, 000 that was donated by private citizens and, considering the role it plays, the cost can be justified. The site is easily accessible to any citizen and is located in a place that is identified quickly as well. The address to the memorial is 646 Main St. Dallas, TX 75202 (Campbell 17). While visiting the memorial plaza I realized that it is strategic place in our city and tourists who are interested in learning more about the assassination of President J.F. Kennedy can visit various historical sites.  These sites include Grassy Knoll - the home of Lee Harvey Oswald who assassinated the president, Dealey Plaza - the spot where the president was killed, the sixth-floor museum that has exhibits for president assassination and the historical Texas Movie Theater. The memorial is also easily accessible for people who are physically handicapped and are using a wheelchair. This site is an exciting place for the first timers, who are interested in knowing the history of John F. Kennedy. For one to fully understand what the memorial symbolizes, he or she should visit the place at night to see the illusion that the lights create. I would recommend that individuals that are planning to pay a visit to the J.F. Kennedy memorial start by visiting the Dealey Plaza to be able to appreciate the site and its symbolism fully.

The JF Kennedy memorial in Dallas is under the management of the Dallas County Historical Foundation, and it has been maintained well from vandalism and deterioration as it is renovated annually by the funds from City County and that collected through the sale of tickets. The walls are covered with a sealant that is resistant to graffiti something that has protected it from vandalism like the one that was witnessed in 1998 when a mentally challenged man sprayed the wall of the memorial with paint (Schweiker 23). As a result of the damage that the graffiti had caused on the monument, the site was renovated back to its original state, and since then this beautiful state has been maintained. The area around the cenotaph is clean, refreshing and well maintained which makes the site so appealing to the incoming visitors.

Generally, I enjoyed the serene environment at the John F. Kennedy memorial plaza, and this visit gave me the opportunity to learn more in addition to what I was told concerning the death of President J.F. Kennedy. However, if I would be given a chance to develop or modify the John F. Kennedy Memorial, I would design it in a way that symbolizes the contribution of the slain president to the Americans and the world. Memorials should make people remember a person or a past event and also serve as a place that gives interpretation and explanations of what took place (Schweikart, 29). The architectural design that Philip Johnson came up with for the monument was simplistic, and this makes it not very appealing to me. The memorial is made up of concrete walls only and a granite slab at the middle of an empty hall making it difficult for the visitors to understand what the structure symbolizes, unless they get guidance from a person who is well conversant with the message that Philip Johnson intended to convey. I think because of the utter simplicity of "The John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza"it is uninviting and sterile to the tourists because the concrete-walled structure does not appear to be capturing the ideas and contributions of the assassinated president that it was constructed to honor. Therefore, as a person in charge of making this memorial better, I would incorporate it with exhibitions that will help bring about the memories of the eventful day when the president was shot and also capture his life history.


The memorial of John F. Kennedy is designed in the form of an open tomb representing the freedom of the spirit of the slain president. The monument is empty inside and quiet and was made this way for remembrance, reflection, and contemplation. The memorial is an essential cultural heritage and landmark for the city of Dallas and for the country as it commemorates the life of an extraordinary man that worked so hard for the good of the whole nation. It is strategically positioned and easy to access by any person seeking to visit and also has been maintained well. Incorporating the open tomb with exhibitions will make this monument more attractive than it is now.

Works Cited

Campbell, K. Icons of Twentieth-Century Landscape Design. Frances Lincoln, 2006. P 17

Glynn S, John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial, Dallas, Texas. Philip Johnson 1970. Galinsky. 2004.  Accessed 12 Nov 2018

Schweikart, L. Peaceful Places. Menasha Ridge Press, 2011. P 17-38

Starkey, P. "David Kennedy Memorial Awards for 2003". Circuit World, vol 31, no. 1, 2005. Emerald, doi:10.1108/cw.2005.21731aab.002. p 719

November 24, 2023

Government History

Subject area:

John F. Kennedy

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