Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kennedy Patriarch Dead - E.M.K. - Teddy

My first letter to Congress was a group effort of my seventh grade class in Philadelphia. The nun in charge of the seventh grade was a freaking Kennedyphile. We wrote individual letters of a few lines and they were addressed with a teacher’s cover letter to Senator Edward Kennedy in the hospital after his plane crash in 1964. Photo above related to his physical therapy thereafter. Tells you how old I am.

The reply came in a franked enveloped showing Kennedy’s signature and his privilege of free mail to the public on public business. The letter inside was a few lines thanking my class for its thoughts and well wishes and was signed in a signature that looked real.

The nun scotch taped the letter onto the chalkboard and it stayed there for several weeks until retired to the teacher's large archive and collection of Kennedy memorabilia. That was my first real civics lesson of memory.

When I saw that Ted Kennedy had died last night on the Internet News Summary, I did not feel anything. I suppose that is a good thing. He was there in the public eye for so long and involved in so many projects and political stands and well - he was just a bigger than life American Icon – bona fide.

There are those stages of grief depending on circumstances. If death is sudden, then grief is abundant out of shock more than anything else. If death is anticipated, then grief is short lived. People and the dying have time to reconcile feelings, emotions etc – to put life and its final days in proper perspective.

My next memory of Teddy was in 1972, at a George McGovern Rally on Broad Street in Philly in front of the Bellevue Stratford Hotel. I don’t remember the date but it was hot and summer. I don’t remember the words of the Ted's speech but it was a good one. The crowd loved it. George McGovern was there too I should mention.

I have lived all my life in the shadow of the Kennedys. I remember shoveling snow in front of our humble row house and going inside to catch the “Ask not what your country can do for you” line live on black and white TV on Inauguration Day 1960 with JFK.

President Kennedy was killed on my birthday. How can you forget that?

The Bobby thing was all too much like a nightmare following two months after Martin Luther King being gunned down. This in the midst of an insane Vietnam War – the sixties were indeed a violent time in American history – no doubt about it.

I felt nothing for Teddy today. I knew he was going away to eternity. It was better than bang, bang – you’re dead – like his brothers. Forgive my license or metaphor here – I lived through those terrible darks days of our country (flashbacks).

Teddy in many ways was the survivor of much family grief and history. He had his human faults. Don’t we all? In a way the Chappaquiddick incident, whereby a young woman was killed in car crash at night off an unsafe wooden bridge, was a blessing in disguise for Edward Moore Kennedy. If that incident had not happened, perhaps a President Ted Kennedy would have joined his brothers in tragic death.

As the fates and or karma worked out, Teddy the youngest became the Patriarch of an immense family legacy – of service to Massachusetts, the Democratic party and the nation in general for close to half a century.

I did not feel anything or cry at hearing of Teddy’s death. In my heart, far too many tears have been shed for that family. No more tears are necessarily.

The end of an era, a dynasty, dies with Teddy. When they bury him in a few days in Arlington, a big chuck of the granite of the Kennedy history is laid to rest in eternity.

The Lion of the United States Senate, Edward Moore Kennedy, is dead. With his passing, his legacy and the legacy of the whole Kennedy clan of his generation – means that “now (they) belong to the ages”.

No need to cry.

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