If you dislike the Kennedy's in any way, I suggest that you turn away from this post right now and come back another day.
If you like the Kennedy family, or are at least indifferent, stay awhile as I give my tribute to a family whom I greatly admire.
As a history major, I have always been a voracious reader of biographies and such. Reading is a way for me to live a life in the past. Be a hero, gain knowledge, slay dragons, and fight crime. I'm a dreamer, but not a doer. In second grade, I began my love affair with Abraham Lincoln. This included memorizing the Gettysburg Address at age 8, continued with numerous papers about him and my reading of several biographies. Eventually my passion dwindled and our affair ended.
In high school, my interests changed to the Roosevelts, and then to the Roosevelt women. This lasted approximately a minute as I found the Roosevelts to be a bit spoiled and whiny.
College came, and with it a book entitled Jackie, Ethel, and Joan. I fell head over heels for these three Kennedy spouses. I began reading everything I could about the Kennedy family. Biographies on the Kennedy men, the Kennedy women, and then their children. I never tired or grew bored with any knowledge I gained regarding this family.
I'm not someone who worshipped the Kennedy family. I don't have pictures of them on my wall, and I don't pretend that they didn't have faults. We all fall short of the glory of God. What is more important is what they gave me.
Through reading, I was on the PT 109 with Jack saving the lives of my countryman. While flying through the air with Joe Jr, I earned the Navy Cross and died for the USA. Kathleen taught me to dance, flirt, and win over the English gentry. With Rosemary, I felt the pain of being slow in a family where witty banter and knowledge meant everything. Eunice shared her compassion, Bobby his courage, Pat her insecurities, Jean her desire for a normal life, and Teddy the feelings of not quite measuring up.
I connected with the Kennedy family. Coming from a large, loving family myself, I could understand their fierce loyalty for each other. Their Catholic faith was the same as my own faith. Just reading about them, I was filled with "vig-ah." Encouraged by Jack to "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," I have worked on Habitat Houses, volunteered in food pantries, and picked up litter on the side of the road. One of my favorite service projects was to serve food to the elderly in college. Because of Ted's constant battling in the Senate, I had access to student loans and had the priviledge of attending college. Teddy led the way for FMLA to be passed so that I can rest easy and know that after childbirth, I will not lose my job if I stay home for a couple of months with my baby. And If I lose that job for whatever reason, I know that my family will still have access to healthcare through Cobra. I am grateful to Eunice for starting the Special Olympics which afforded me the opportunity to be a "buddy" not once, but twice; Both whom touched my life in a special way. Bobby once quoted the Serpant in George Bernard Shaw's play Back to Methuselah, "There are those that look at things the way that they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?"
I am saddened that only Jean is left. There was something magical knowing that so many Kennedys were still alive. Losing both Eunice and Teddy so close together is tough. Of the original set of Kennedy spouses, only Ethel, Joan, and Sargent Shriver still remember the magic and the charisma of this family.
Sometimes I wonder if such a family will ever appear in American history again. A family with such passion for public service, with a desire to better themselves. A family from humble roots, Catholic politicians when Catholics were somewhat feared, and a family who wanted to inspire people and change the world. However, I draw strength from the words that Senator Kennedy spoke at the 1980 Democratic Convention. "For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, our cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."
RIP Edward Moore Kennedy. I'm certain that Jesus and your family welcomed you home.