BOSTON (Reuters) - Any history buff with a computer and Internet connection now has a chance to walk in John F. Kennedy’s shoes -- or at least sit, virtually, at the 35th President’s Oval Office desk.
The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston has launched “The President’s Desk,” an interactive website that that seats users at Kennedy’s desk and displays multimedia presentations of aspects of his life and administration.
(To view the website, see: here)
The displays cover topics ranging from JFK’s experiences as a torpedo boat commander in World War II to his 1960 presidential campaign, to a video in which Kennedy expounds on his love for sailing around Massachusetts’ Cape Cod on his sloop Victura.
Users can dial the Oval Office phone and hear conversations between Kennedy and secretary of defense Robert McNamara, NASA astronaut Gordon Cooper and others.
In one call, Kennedy and former President Dwight Eisenhower talk frankly about how to interpret Russian actions leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Another button launches an archive of once-secret recordings and transcripts on other sensitive domestic and foreign policy matters including the Vietnam War, nuclear arms testing and the civil rights movement.
Kennedy was the first president to record extensively his meetings and telephone conversations -- a practice famously ended during the Nixon administration. He selectively recorded over 12 hours of telephone conversations using a Dictaphone system, according to the library.
Kennedy’s desk was an exact replica of the HMS Resolute desk, made from timbers of the British Arctic expedition ship and presented by Queen Victoria to President Rutherford Hayes in 1878.
The desk disappeared from public view until Jacqueline Kennedy found it in the White House broadcast room and had it installed in the Oval Office in 1961. The desk is still being used by President Barack Obama.