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Parkland Memorial Hospital Opens John F. Kennedy Park for Hope, Healing, and Heroes

For those who lived through the fateful day of November 22, 1963, the memory remains etched in their minds. However, for younger generations, it's a historical event confined to textbooks. In Dallas, the city that witnessed the tragic assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Parkland Memorial Hospital continues to be a poignant reminder of that dark day in American history.

Despite the somber association, the Parkland Health Foundation has embarked on a philanthropic initiative that transforms the hospital's legacy. The recently unveiled John F. Kennedy Park for Hope, Healing, and Heroes, situated on the south side of the Ron J. Anderson MD Clinic Building on Parkland's main campus, is now accessible to the public from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Dedicated to honoring the late president's life, the park serves as a serene sanctuary for reflection and respite. The project acknowledges major philanthropic contributors and their nominated personal heroes, fostering a sense of remembrance, reflection, and empowerment for all visitors.

“This park is a space for all to remember and reflect on the president’s ideals of unity and inclusion—and also on our own resiliency in the face of challenge and change,” said Michael Horne, EdD, MPP, President & CEO of Parkland Health Foundation. “By integrating the calming effects of water and greenery, this park also embodies Parkland’s belief in the power of physical spaces to aid in the healing journey for all who enter.”

To celebrate President Kennedy's values and his affinity for the sea, every element of the park has been meticulously crafted. The primary feature wall symbolizes the tidal rhythm of the ocean, emphasizing the interconnectedness of each individual's life. The walkway and fountains, aligned with the adjacent clinic's door to the north and Dealey Plaza to the south, visually narrate the events of November 22, 1963. The fountains activate at specific times each day, allowing visitors to quietly reflect on the historic moments.

Constructed with dark granite stone reminiscent of the native schist in President Kennedy's home state of Massachusetts, the fountain and feature walls pay homage to his roots. The three live oak trees represent the president's three children, while magnolia trees symbolize the ornamental trees at his gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery and those in the White House Rose Garden, which he and Jacqueline Kennedy restored in 1961.

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