A memory, and just one. Robert Kennedy was shot on the night before our last day of school in 1968, my last day of eighth grade. I remember going through that day not quite able to understand how life seemed normal for so many of those around me. But it did. A neighbor had planned a picnic for that night, and it went on as scheduled. But life that evening did not seem normal; all the adults were stricken. After midnight, Bobby Kennedy died.
Then we re-enacted the ritual remembered from the president’s assassination five years earlier, repeated with the killing of Martin Luther King just a couple months before Bobby was slain: a lying in state, a public funeral, a farewell.
It fell to Ted Kennedy to give the eulogy at his brother’s funeral. I was sick that day and so beside myself–talk about things you never get over, and this was one for me–that I don’t remember much of what he said. The bulk of the text came from Bobby himself, but mostly I recall the end, when he struggled to finish without breaking down. What a loss for him and his family, what a loss for us all. And despite all the personal stumbles, missteps, and humiliations Teddy suffered later, what strength it took for him to go on.
(The text of his Robert Kennedy eulogy is here, and the MP3 is here; you can also find it on YouTube with a variety of slide shows that range from the almost cloying to the bizarre.)
2 Replies to “Teddy Kennedy”
I remember his moving eulogy to Robert, too. Didn’t know who Teddy was before that.
Some (on television) have asked what one word, if possible, one would use to describe Teddy Kennedy. Mine would be Dedication. Not unselfish as some have suggested…but designed by family tradition, circumstances, consequences and personal will for unshakeable commitment to a course of action.