Lonely Planet Writer

Commemorating JFK: here's five ways you can mark the 100th birthday of the late president

Today marks the 100th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s birth, and a wide range of events is taking place across the US to celebrate the nation’s 35th president. JFK was only 46 when he was assassinated in 1963 by a gunman in Dallas. Here are some of the options available to those who wish to participate in celebrating the centennial.

President John F. Kennedy speaks at a press conference in 1963. Image: National Archive/Newsmakers
President John F. Kennedy speaks at a press conference in 1963. Image: National Archive/Newsmakers

JFK Library

The Boston library has a new exhibition, JFK 100: Milestones & Mementos, chronicling historic milestones in the president’s career and administration, as well as the events of his personal and family life. It features a compelling selection of items drawn mostly from the Kennedy Library’s collections.

Highlights of the exhibition include family items from his childhood and adolescence; a flag from PT 109, the boat commanded by JFK during World War II; items relating to the Cuban Missile Crisis, and notes jotted down by JFK in preparation of his landmark address to the nation on civil rights. A ceremonial flag-raising ceremony was held this morning to mark the centennial, and there will be a US Navy flyover later today. These will make a year-long schedule of activities, including TED talks, touch football games, and an international digital project inviting people to submit photographs of places named after Kennedy.

Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

The JFK Centennial Celebration today at the Kennedy Center in Washington includes feature readings, performances and rare video footage featuring stars from music, theatre, dance and TV/film. Guests can enjoy a complimentary hot dog, chips, and soft drink served on the River Terrace before the performance, and special readings of JFK speeches by journalist and chief political correspondent for CNN Dana Bash and Tony-winning Hamilton star Christopher Jackson, among others.

There will also be performances by New York City Ballet principal dancers, Joaquín De Luz and Tiler Peck, plus Jenni Barber and Claybourne Elder from the current Broadway production of Sunday in the Park with George will perform “Move On” from the hit Tony-winning musical.

The Newseum, Washington

Creating Camelot: The Kennedy Photography of Jacques Lowe, will open on 29 September at the Newseum in Washington. This photo exhibit showcases more than 70 intimate and iconic images of JFK, first Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and their children, Caroline and John, taken by Kennedy’s personal photographer, Jacques Lowe.

The original negatives of nearly all of the 70 images displayed in “Creating Camelot” were lost forever in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. The lost negatives were on Lowe’s contact sheets and prints, which fortunately had been stored in another New York City facility. The Newseum, working closely with the Lowe estate, digitally restored the images to museum quality for the exhibit.

John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum

The museum in Cape Cod is hosting an exhibition called JFK at 100: Life and Legacy. The special exhibition will tell JFK’s story through the lens of his years at the Cape: his time with parents, brothers, and sisters; entertaining friends; summers with his wife, Jacqueline, and their children: political campaigns, and above all, the presidency. Other scheduled events include the John F. Kennedy Centennial Concert, a once-in-a-lifetime multimedia concert by the Cape Symphony.

Wreath-Laying Ceremony, Virginia

A wreath-laying ceremony is planned to honour JFK at his gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. In addition, the late president’s great-nephew, Joe Kennedy III, is expected to deliver the keynote address at a ceremony held at the US National Park later today.