President Kennedy was killed 45 years ago today. Where to head to remember him

“If we can not end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.”

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy was assassinated 45 years ago today. As one of the events that certainly shaped the collective consciousness of Americans, at least in my opinion, here are places I’ve been where I’ve thought of Kennedy and that fateful day where the words “grassy knoll” and “book depository” became part of history books.

As a former Peace Corps volunteer, his legacy has touched me personally.

Place 1: Dealy Plaza and the grassy knoll. There is a plaque here to commemorate Kennedy. The grassy knoll was made famous by the idea that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone. Theories abound that shots were fired from the grassy knoll as well. If you drive along Elm Street, you’ll be on the route Kennedy’s limousine was following when he became Oswald’s target. The plaza is a National Historic Landmark.

Place 2: Sixth Floor Museum at Dealy Plaza in Dallas, Texas. Located in what was formerly called the Texas School Book Depository, the museum chronicles Kennedy’s life and death. (Although, I’ve been by the building, I’ve not been to the museum.)

Place 3–The limousine that Kennedy was riding in on the day he was shot can be seen at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. I have been here. The rest of the museum is also worth a visit. It can take hours to see everything.

Place 4–His grave at Arlington National Cemetery. His inaugural address was used as the grave’s inscription.

Place 5–One place I have not been is the JFK Library & Museum in Boston, MA. Here you can learn more about Kennedy’s life and presidency through films and artifacts. Jacqueline Kennedy’s life is also included in the mix.

Here is another Kennedy quote that reminds me of travelers. Its message encapsulates one idea of what draws people towards distant horizons from where they were born. But it is also what pulls them back to the familiar.

“All of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea — whether it is to sail or to watch it — we are going back from whence we came.”

Library themed hotel in NYC

It’s a crazy, whacked out world of boutique hotels when interior decorators turn to the Dewey Decimal System for inspiration.

And yet, that’s exactly what has happened in the highly competitive hotel industry in New York City.

The Library Hotel is serious about the Dewey Decimal System and has not only organized its floors and rooms based upon the legendary numbering system, but the staff has also populated each room with appropriately corresponding books.

The 8th floor, for example, houses the 800 category: Literature. Room 800.002 is full of the classics, room 800.003 has poetry books, and room 800.006 is brimming with mysteries. Or, check out room 500.005 if you’re a dinosaur nut, or room 300.002 if Political Science is more your thing.

The hotel boasts a collection of 60,000 books so it would take a very long time and many rainy days to work your way through all 60 rooms–but I bet you’d be pretty smart afterwards if you did.

Don’t tip the locals, build them a library instead

Literacy is a gift that keeps on giving–unless, of course, there are no books to read.

This is a tragic situation for those with limited means to travel, because books are often the only window they have to the outside world.

Sadly, public libraries can be a very scarce resource where they are needed most–in developing countries. But they don’t have to be. Providing one for a local community is surprisingly affordable and a great way to give back to the wonderful people who made your travels through this part of the world so enjoyable.

Room to Read is a nonprofit organization which has established 3,600 libraries in the developing world since 2001. Naturally, they are looking for travelers like you to help out–travelers, for example, who have spent time chatting with the small children of a mountain village in Nepal and know the joy that even a few books will bring to their lives.

But let’s not settle on just a few books. For just $3,000 a sponsor can fill an entire room full of books and convert it into a library in Nepal, or a handful of other countries the organization works with.

Naturally, smaller donations will help as well…. So pull on that Santa hat and start giving.