JFK's Words Ring True Today, Found On the Walls of The Kennedy Center and the REACH
To passionate arts lovers, the words of John F. Kennedy’s words ring true today. “I look forward to an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft,” (JFK, at Amherst College, October 26, 1963) reads one of the 35th president’s ringing exhortations, prominently chiseled on the walls overlooking the Kennedy Center terrace. Nearby is another: “This country cannot afford to be materially rich and spiritually poor.” (JFK, State of the Union Message, January 14, 1963)
The Kennedy Center, a living memorial to President John F. Kennedy, honors our 35th President everyday by uplifting ideals from his legacy (service, justice, freedom, courage, and gratitude) that live through the arts. The new annex – the REACH – expresses these ideals anew.
The REACH—the name was inspired by JFK’s vision for human potential—is full in tributes to the 35th president. Thirty-five gingko trees, which shed their leaves in the late fall, are there to memorialize JFK’s November assassination. Classrooms are named after Kennedy family horses Macaroni and Sardar, and Kennedy quotations— such as, “I see little of more importance to the future of our country and civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist” and “The artist, however faithful to his personal vision of reality, becomes the last champion of the individual mind against an intrusive society and an officious state.” (Both from Kennedy’s last major speech: Remarks at Amherst College, October 26, 1963) —are etched in glass throughout.
“I hope everybody from D.C. will come and read these quotes,” the Reach’s architect Steven Holl says. “The values of John F. Kennedy are more important than they ever were.”
“Art knows no national boundaries. Genius can speak in any tongue and the entire world will hear it and listen.” (JFK, found on the wall of the PT-109 break out room in the REACH.)