Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rest In Peace, You've Earned It

Ted Kennedy, 1932-2009
Only Jean Kennedy Smith left now.

For those of us of a certain age, the Kennedys were always there, larger than life, leading us with their enduring hope for and political ideal of a better world. I remember the first time I heard someone spout something negative about the Kennedys; I was shocked, for I believed in their espoused values, and in their deeds toward making the world a better place for our having been here. Still do.

Kennedy's death brings up some very old and vivid memories. Of the bitterly cold Inauguration Day in 1961 with Eisenhower and Kennedy riding together in an open carriage in top hats and morning coats as I watched from a hotel lobby in NYC, of my sixth grade teacher crying on November 22, 1963, of that terribly long weekend with the funereal drums and clip clop of a riderless horse seemingly the only sounds in the world, and five years later, living in California, staying up to watch RFK win the primary there, only to be cut down like his brother by a zealot with a gun, turning my joy and hope into grief and hopelessness. My generation's innocence was diminished by these events, and destroyed by the duplicity shown by politicians who stepped in to fill the terrible vacuum left by the two brothers. When JFK was assasinated, even as an 11 year old, I understood that my world would never be the same; that if HE could be killed, no one was safe.

But Ted Kennedy endured his personal errors and family tragedies, and did indeed make the world a better place for having been here. His passing closes an era for me, and I suspect, for others, too. In our current world of instant access and opinion-driven government, politicians such as the Kennedys, fearless and steadfast in their opinions and positions, are unlikely to rise again. And that, my friend is our loss.

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