JFK Park Now Open on Parkland’s Main Campus

Posted 11/22/2023

Those of a certain age remember where they were on Nov. 22, 1963. For Gen X, Y or Millennials, it’s a date they read about in history books. And for those in Dallas, it was a day that sadly put their city and their hospital in the national spotlight.

As the place where President John F. Kennedy succumbed to an assassin’s bullet, Parkland Memorial Hospital will forever be linked to that tragic day in American history. But thanks to philanthropic efforts of the Parkland Health Foundation, the hospital is now celebrating the late president’s life by creating a place of reflection and relief.

The John F. Kennedy Park for Hope, Healing and Heroes, located on the south side of the Ron J. Anderson MD Clinic Building on Parkland’s main campus, is now open to the public from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. The park acknowledges major philanthropic investors and the personal heroes they named, and serves as a quiet place of respite, remembrance, reflection and empowerment for all who enter.

“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.”

As a celebration of the late president’s life, the park honors the value President Kennedy placed on the lives of others as well as his love of the sea. Each element was thoughtfully considered to provide a monument for remembrance and a calm, healing space for visitors to enjoy.

Water flows downward on the primary feature wall to symbolize the tidal rhythm of the ocean and the president’s belief that each of our lives is reflected there. Opposite the water wall, the primary feature wall and walkway are aligned on an axis with both the door of the adjacent clinic to the north, and Dealey Plaza to the south, where President Kennedy was first shot before arriving at Parkland. This walkway and associated fountains are designed to visually illustrate the events of Nov. 22, 1963. These key events are coordinated with the timing of the fountains, with each fountain designed to activate at these critical times each day to quietly reflect on each historic moment for a period of time.

The fountain and feature walls are constructed of a dark granite stone, similar in color and texture to the native schist stone found in President Kennedy’s native state of Massachusetts. The three live oak trees represent the president’s three children, and the magnolia trees around the garden represent the ornamental trees at the president’s gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery, as well as signature trees of the White House Rose Garden that Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline, restored in 1961.

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