Visitors Moved to Tears at JFK Museum in Hyannis, Mass. - NECN

Visitors Moved to Tears at JFK Museum in Hyannis, Mass.



    Museum is 4th largest visitor spot on Cape Cod; one exhibit shows young president enjoying his last summer on the Cape (Published Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014)

    (NECN) - A small and solemn memorial will take place Friday at the John F. Kennedy museum in Hyannis, Mass., 50 years after his assassination. The museum is the fourth largest visitor spot on Cape Cod.

    People come to remember Kennedy as the president and a family man. Many are moved to tears.

    Right outside the Kennedy museum on Main Street in Hyannis sits the most photographed icon on Cape Cod. This statue shows John F. Kennedy with his pants rolled up, walking in sand and sea grass; it’s a depiction of the life he enjoyed every time he and his family came to the Cape.

    “Cape Cod and Hyannisport were just in their blood,” says Rebecca Pierce-Merrick.

    She is the co-founder and curator at the John F. Kennedy Hyannis museum, a small but sentimentally grand place where history comes alive from room to room.

    “He loved this place and he used it the way it should be. It was very much a part of him.”

    Pierce-Merrick tells us how this particular exhibit--called The Summer of 1963 to November 22, 1963: Days of Joy, Days of Sorrow--chronicles the last four months of the president's life from a Cape Cod perspective.

    Images gathered from the archive show a happy president, sailing on the Honey Fitz, celebrating Jackie's 34th birthday that summer or the president arriving by helicopter, greeted by an army of children or eager locals hoping to see their native son.

    “They certainly loved the president and just felt so honored that he was such a part of our lives, but I think more than that, they knew him somehow. They bumped into him at the post office, or they saw the kids at horseback riding.”

    It's been recorded that Kennedy last visited the Cape in October 1963. A photo of Kennedy and his ailing father was taken during that trip.

    “He probably thought it was going to be the last time he would see his father, but it was the other way around.”

    Once news of the assassination reached the Cape, so did condolence cables from around the world.
    The Cape Cod Standard Times put out a late edition.

    Their coverage is a focal point of this exhibit.

    “We uncovered some things along the way that we thought really enhance this exhibit. One was essentially a suitcase that was closed after assassination week by one of our trustees and he opened it and realized and remembered that he had saved every local Cape Cod newspaper, from the later edition announcing the death of the president to the week of local remembrances and coverage.”  

    Today, museum visitors can be seen wiping away tears as they walk from image to image.

    John Allen is the museum's executive director.

    “There come here, particularly this year, the 50th anniversary...They have a very important memory and story that they want to tell.”

    “I do feel close to him. He did so much whether you are republican or democrat. He did so much for his country and his state,” said Mandy Tucker from North Carolina.

    “It stills touches you when you think back, you reflect on what has happened and it really touches you,” Cliff Shields from Maryland said.

    Images of a young president, enjoying his last summer on the Cape are immortalized in stone and in Cape Cod's history.

    The museum is working to attract the next generation of visitors. There are plans to make the museum more interactive and modern, while still maintaining its Cape Cod feel.