After controversy, a JFK statue may finally grace Cape Cod

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Cape Cod was the backdrop for the most iconic images of President John F. Kennedy: a robust leader at the helm of a sailboat, with hair tousled and sunlight splashed on his face.

Now, 42 years after Kennedy's assassination, the place he called home may finally erect a statue to honor the 35th president. A sculptor has nearly completed what would be Cape Cod's first Kennedy statue. The 6-foot, 400-pound bronze cast will be walking barefoot on a mound of real sand accented with live eel grass.

This is not the first attempt to erect a Kennedy statue near the beaches where the president learned to swim and played touch football with his Navy buddies from PT-109.

In 2000, bad press killed a concept that depicted an impossible scene: the president strolling with his arm around a 38-year-old John F. Kennedy Jr., the son who was a toddler when a gunman shot his father in Dallas in 1963. The work, titled "What Could've Been," also memorialized Kennedy Jr., who died in a 1999 plane crash.

"They trashed it," said the sculptor, David Lewis, who had designed the project with the help of the Kennedy family and had the approval of the Town Council. "Some people just couldn't get their mind around this artistic concept."

A Cape Cod Times editorial called the memorial "tacky" and "odd." The Kennedy family soon nixed the project, and checks were sent back to donors.

Although there are streets, schools and airports named for Kennedy and other presidents across the country, there are few statues, said presidential historian Robert Dallek, author of the 2003 biography "An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy 1917 to 1963."

"Getting these (statues) erected is not a simple business," Dallek said. "Politics linger on."

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