Wednesday, August 22, 2007
I recently had occasion to go to the Records Building downtown, which is right across the street from the Old Red Courthouse and the John F. Kennedy Memorial. I remembered some small controversy (probably more of a kerfuffle) recently about how the JFK Memorial does not do justice to such an iconic figure as John F. Kennedy. I am not sure but the rumblings may have started with this Slate.com architecture critique.
At any rate I wanted to take a moment to visit the monument and see for myself. While the information outside the memorial states that it is not intended to mourn a passing but to celebrate a life, it evokes quite the opposite.
Once you enter the structure, which is like a large empty room, you are at once completely separated from the city around you, with only the blue sky and clouds above. My eyes were drawn skyward, which suggests hope, but it was clearly bittersweet looking up from an empty tomb. The square slab of granite in the middle does look like a funerary marker, regardless of what Witold Rybcynski says. The whole monument invites one to pause and ask “what if?”
I’m no architecture critic, but that is what it did for me. I believe it is fitting as the memorial at the scene of a national tragedy. I’m glad it’s there and I’m glad I stopped by to take a moment of reflection.