The passing of Edward (Teddy) Kennedy yesterday marks the end of an era of great American politicians and of the Kennedy men.
The Kennedy family is about as close to royalty in the United States as there can be said.
The Kennedy family’s legacy is unquestioned, and a true great American story of power and charisma. The head of the family, Joe Kennedy was an astute American businessman who made his massive fortune in the roaring 20’s, and then went on to be Ambassador to the UK. Along the way, he and his wife Rose made good their Irish Catholic heritage and had 9 children. It is an impressive lot, including a US President, 2 Senators, all American Servicemen and the list goes on…
To have one person make the US Presidency is remarkable, but to have multiple children make that run to the nation’s highest office if nothing short of remarkable and unprecedented. However, this is also the Achilles heel of the family in which has brought so much death and despair to their legacy. The “Kennedy Curse” surely has struck many times in tragic and surreal ways that have permanently left their place in history.
Out of the tragedy of the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and his younger brother Bobby just 5 years later, it was Teddy’s speech to eulogize Robert that has always struck me as his finest moment. There have been greater actions in Teddy’s career and life that have made him the long serving Senator that he was, but the speech that he gave at Bobby’s funeral was a beautiful tribute to a Senator, Presidential Candidate and a Brother. He said,
“My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.
Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world. As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him: 'Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.'”
Not knowing Ted Kennedy personally, but looking in as an outsider, I seem to think this of his family and legacy…
-That a man can make mistakes, and large ones at that in the middle of life. These mistakes can never be taken away or minimized, and it truly makes a man much more accountable to those he once claimed he was above. But the way he deals with this burden of debt is the measure of that man’s character. I think that Teddy Kennedy’s service to his country and his people, although smeared with incident, have proven that his contribution in his 77 years was that of honour, and gratitude to an indebted nation.
So today, I woke up and realized that the last of the Kennedy men are gone. -That a new era has been brought to the realm of a new hope with the Presidency of Barrack Obama and the similarities it held in the election of Teddy’s older brother John F. Kennedy. I see that history has a way of ushering in the new, and allowing the older contributors to rest after a lifetime of dedication, service and honour.
If there is an afterlife as we see it, I hope Teddy was greeted by his brothers Bobby and John half way to the Pearly Gates for that escort that comes with great men in history as they are ushered in to spend the rest of eternity with those he loved and sought to help.
Rest in Peace Senator Edward Kennedy