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A Hero at Sea: JFK and PT-109

from The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

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In the middle of World War II, on August 2, 1943, Lt. John F. Kennedy’s motor torpedo boat PT-109 was sunk in the Pacific Theater. Kennedy, clenching a life jacket strap between his teeth to tow one injured crew-member, swam for four hours to lead survivors to a nearby island. This dramatic tale of World War II heroism framed Senator Kennedy’s political narrative as he ran for president in 1960. We will discuss the impact that the PT-109 story had on Kennedy’s life and career, including a special screening of a 1960 campaign commercial hosted by actor Henry Fonda.  We will also discuss how other presidential candidates used – or didn’t use – their veteran's status as part of their political narrative!

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About This Program


Multipoint: $100.00
View Only: 100.00
Point to Point: $100.00


50 minutes

Target Audience

Education: Grade(s) 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, Adult LearnersPublic Library: Library Patrons

Minimum participants:


Maximum participants:

No maximum, but for optimum interactivity, we suggest no more than 30 students.

Primary Disciplines

Social Studies/History, Leadership

Program Delivery Mode

Videoconference - H.323 (Polycom, Cisco/Tandberg, LifeSize, etc...)
Videoconference – Webcam/desktop (Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco WebEx, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, Blue Jeans, etc...)

Booking Information

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Receive this program and 9 more for one low price when you purchase the CILC Virtual Expeditions package. Learn more

For more information contact CILC at (507) 388-3672

Provider's Cancellation Policy

Payment will be required if canceled less than 48 hours in advance of the scheduled program.. Living History programs must be canceled 7 days in advance to avoid being billed for the program.

About This Provider

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The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

Dallas, TX
United States

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza interprets the life, death and legacy of President John F. Kennedy.  Now, through interactive, inquiry-based distance learning programs, you and your students can experience history through careful examination of the photographs, films and artifacts in the Museum's collection of over 60,000 items.  These programs also connect students with "living history" speakers: eyewitnesses, law enforcement officials, journalists, physicians and others with direct memories of the Kennedy assassination.  A selection of engaging programs provide opportunities for students to meet the Museum's curatorial, collections and education staff, prompting thoughtful discussions on U.S. history, world history, the Civil Rights Movement, oral history and the role of the historian!  All programs meet state and national history standards.

Genevieve Kaplan

Program Details


1. The program begins with an introduction to the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963, the founding of the Museum and the organization's collection.
2. Staff will illuminate the story of PT-109 with images and video.
3. Staff will discuss how
3. After viewing and discussing a few of the posters, we will discuss trends the students see in the design of the posters, as well as the messages.
4. We will compare to what they are seeing in the 2016 Presidential campaign and give them the websites where they can create their own poster - for themselves or a political candidate.


1. Understand the mission of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.
2. Develop a familiarity with The Sixth Floor Museum's Collection by exposure to its photographs, artifacts, and documents.
3. Understand the story of President Kennedy's experience in WWII and how it was used during the 1960 presidential campaign.
4. Enhanced understanding of how other veterans who were campaigning for the office of President of the United States used or chose not to use their veteran's status as part of their political narrative..

Standards Alignment

National Standards

National 5-12 Social Studies; Era 9

State Standards

5th Grade Social Studies 5.5a,c; 5.24a,b,c,e;
6th Grade Social Studies 6.2b; 6.21 a,b,d,e;
7th Grade Social Studies 7.7d; 7.21a,b,d,e,f;
8th Grade Social Studies 8.29a,b,c,d,e,f,g;
US History 24c,e,f;
US Government 21d