View Full Version : The Kennedys, Gonzaga & Camelot

06-05-2008, 12:16 PM
Today is the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

That and the recent announcement that Teddy Kennedy has brain cancer got me to thinking about the Kennedy connection to my life, my mom and dad, American Catholics, Gonzaga University, the country and the world.

The thoughts wound up jogging a few memories I thought I'd share with this forum. Having grown up just a few feet from the campus, I was fortunate to witness the budding romance between Gonzaga & the Kennedy's and way, way beyond.

I agree with those, including Ted Kennedy recently, who point to the similarities, in style and in speech, between Barack Obama and JFK and there's a sense of deja vu there, too.

My first taste of the Kennedy's was 1960. Then-freshman U.S. Sen. Jack Kennedy, D-MA, addressed a crowd in the old Gonzaga Gym (now Russell Theatre) during a stopover enroute to the presidency.

I was there. I introduced myself when the opportunity arose, and it did. I shook his hand, got his autograph and walked beside him as he walked out the back door of the gym and towards the newest building on the campus, The Crosby Library.

He asked me as the crowd followed what my father did for a living. "He's a teacher," I said. "Good," he said, "We need good teachers. Lots of them. Please ask him to consider voting for me."

"I will," I said. "Good luck!"

I was in the 8th grade. He was visiting my neighborhood, known locally
(depending on who you ask) as The Little Vatican, the Holy Land, The Gonzaga neighborhood, or, my favorite, The St. Al's Neighborhood.

There weren't many functions at GU the neighbors didn't participate in. It would be like seeing a bonfire and not looking. It was that intertwined.

JFK was just one of them. But an important one for us Catholics, or "crossbacks" if you bothered to talk to a pagan or two from Logan Grade School.

Even back then, the buzz was huge for this famous, handsome, articulate, potential presidential candidate. So of course, when he came to our neighborhood, we all had to check him out.

So did the priests, nuns, students & neighborhood moms, dads and kids like me where this young Catholic man was building a reputation as a serious contender for the nation's highest office.

For he was Catholic. One of us. I pictured him with an ashen cross smudged on his forehead on Ash Wednesday. Just like mine. I imagined he was busy confessing his sins every First Friday (at least), too, and marching in the May Day parade somewhere in the country, just like I did, when he was a kid.

And we had other things in common, too. Devotions, stations of the cross, the Novena of Grace, a slap from our bishop and a bull or two from the Pope, everthing.

I'm sure he even served mass, stole a little wine and ate a few unblessed hosts, too, a little ritual/perk we boys gave ourselves now and again for getting up early on a weekend. Or a weekday.

The Holy Names nuns who taught us at St. Al's discussed pride in our religion and pointed to JFK as a great example of what young Catholics could do with a little initiative ("and", I remember my dad saying "a lot of money"). We prayed for our Catholic candidate often and we listened, like
I envision Barack Obama's supporters do today, to other Americans and wondered if they were going to discriminate against him.

The bishop, the priests in the pulpits and our parents at home took to smiling more often, realizing there were going to witness history in their lifetime: a Catholic in the Whitehouse.

Those were heady days. We were young. Invincible and eager, too, as we
witnessed and then celebrated, one of our own as he became president of the United States. It turned out he had a beautiful wife, two perfect kids, was incredibly wealthy and successful and the whole family seemed perfect in every way.

Their lives became our lives, their families became ours, too, for awhile and the feelings that went with the upbeat spirit he and his family, and extended family, too, represented, came to be known as Camelot.

I think we were all celebrating our own youth as much as anything and we looked to the Kennedy's to represent those wonderful, untested, dreams and expectations, and that is exactly what they seemed to do for an important, very short, time in our lives.

By the time I was a a junior at Gonzaga Prep, just three years later, JFK was dead. Camelot was shot in the head from behind in Dallas for no earthly reason.

We were devastated as a nation. I was in chemistry class at Prep when the news came over the loudspeaker. We stopped and prayed, first that he would survive, and a few minutes later, that the Kennedy family, and the nation, would survive this tragedy. Teddy and Bobby, devastated & grief stricken as they were, urged everyone to remain calm and let the legal system take care of their brother's murderer.

About four years after Dallas, Bobby Kennedy came to Spokane. RFK had decided the best thing he could do for his country was run for president. Lyndon Johnson had decided not to seek re election, Gene McCarthy did not seem strong enough to beat Richard Nixon, so Bobby came to Spokane & the northwest to tell us he would gladly pick up the gauntlet once carried by his brother and return to Washington and continue the work that had been cut short by JFK's death. RFK spoke at Spokane Falls Community College (then on east mission).

I met RFK and shook his hand before the rally. Many of us did. I had been
asked to introduce the College's Student Body President, Cart Ross, who in turn, was going to introduce the crowd to RFK.

While I was doing that, RFK wandered into the crowd and started shaking hands and making his way to the platform. It was like watching Muhammad Ali work his way into the ring for a heavyweight fight. Which
is to say, he stole our show so we all shut up and just waited for him to
arrive. He was in no hurry and was real good at milking the moment and the crowd.

All I remember is he had decided to steal Gene McCarthy's thunder and run for the Dem. Presidential nomination. The next thing I knew, he was shot dead a few moments after winning the primary race in California.

That was 40 years ago today. If you ever want to listen to a genuinely broken heart, listen to Teddy's eulogies for his brothers. It was break the heart of anyone. And it broke the hearts of Americans, too.

Basically, RFK's senseless slaughter marked the end of camelot and all that went with it.

I don't remember if Teddy came to Spokane to dedicate the John F. Kennedy Pavilion (a bronze JFK bust at the north entrance was the focal point for what is now Martin Centre/aka The Kennel) sometime in the 1970's.

But I remember Teddy was scheduled to be there. I do know I never have met Teddy, so my guess is he couldn't make it for some reason. Or maybe it was me. I think it was him.

I don't remember if there was a Kennedy attending the dedication of the Kennedy Library at Eastern Washington University, but I assume someone represented the family. Maybe even teddy.

In any event, you could say the Kennedy brothers & family left their marks
personally on Spokane and GU in their time.

Teddy, now battling for his life with a brain tumor, is the last living Kennedy brother.

Big bro Joe started the Kennedy legacy of hope & great expectations & followd by tragedy when he was killed in WW II. His father, Joe, Sr., had planned to have Joe run for president.

But even with their setbacks, in their time, the world was their oyster.

Every one of the brothers and sisters worked hard in public service.

Their sheer size and energy seemed to capture and hold the American spirit, especially among Catholics.

The Kennedy's feverishly promoted all kinds of possibilities to the post world war two baby boom generation, too, like walking on the moon, and raised a lot of hopes & expectations in the process.

And each, when it was his turn, would light up the world with speeches that invited all to come to the American table, enjoy its riches, respect each other and live and prosper in peace and harmony.

It was a goal that needed protection but a worthy macro vision of the world and our part in it. It held out the hope that we could all get along.

And most Americans loved it, loved the ideas the fellows and their speeches espoused. We embraced them for expressing them and trying to make sure everyone got a shot at some of those dreams, too.

Under this guidance, the Kennedy's, particularly JFK & Jackie, were said to
represent Camelot, a fictional place in a Broadway musical about a beautiful location, a state of mind really, where everyone seemed to want to go and stay & live forever. A bit of heaven on earth.

A few words to one of the songs in the play went like this:"Don't let it be
forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot."

Camelot became the Kennedy signature and it grew in stature with each succeeding tragedy, not so much for what it promised, but, suddenly, for a promise unfulfilled. Cut short.

That's what many, like me, think about, and mourn, when they recall the promises those times held and the people who tried to keep them alive, like the Kennedy's and Martin Luther King, too, before they were shot down in the prime of their and our, lives.


06-05-2008, 12:17 PM
They represented, and continue to represent, many of this nation's brief,
bright, shining moments when we were young and energetic and excited for life, too.

And yet, the last person strongly associated with that era and those times of great hopes and expectations and laughter and commitment, Teddy, himself, turns out to be only human.

I hope he sticks around awhile longer. The world needs his passion for truth, justice and the American way.

It is difficult to put into words just what sort of impact the family has had on this country, especially given the hard edge of politics, politicians and
divisiveness that now permeates the country and the world.

But I think I found an example of what it was like back then, for the whole

It is reflected in the words, actions and deep, deep love and despair, expressed on the Senate floor Tuesday by Sen. Robert Byrd, after hearing that his friend, Ted Kennedy, had brain cancer.

See if you hear this, feel this pain, too. It's the kind a family member feels for the loss of a loved one, Or one person for his loved ones or his country. It felt like that 40 years ago today, too. Except it was the whole world crying, or sitting in stunned silence.


We loved the Kennedy's, too, most of us. And we remember them, too.

And always will.

Zag 77
06-05-2008, 08:38 PM
I was in the third grade when JFK died. It was like a death in my Italian Catholic family here in Spokane. It was worse when RFK died. The Kennedys were on a pedestal in those days and virtual saints.

As I grew older I became a little more realistic and we learned that Joe Kennedy Sr was an ####ole who manipulated the media, treated Rosemary terribly, and the guys treated their wives like crap.

Teddy suffered by comparison to his older brothers, but to his credit became a great senator once he gave up his presidential ambitions.

I still admire JFK and RFK as very capable guys from a different Democratic Party that does not exist anymore (along with guys like Scoop Jackson, Warren Magnuson, FDR and Truman), and so it has moved waaaaay over to the left.

As for Obama comparsions to the Kennedys, to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen's putdown of Dan Quayle, I remember JFK and RFK. They were heroes I looked up to. And Senator Obama, you are no JFK or RFK.

JFK had grown up in an environment where he was in England with his father during years of an ambassadorship. He had served as a Naval officer in WWII and had to face life and death decisions. He served in the House of Representatives before serving a couple of terms in the Senate. He had at least a dozen years in Congress before running for President. RFK had a career as a Senate saffer, served as Attorney General and in the US Senate. Obama has served 3 years in the Senate as a junior back bencher and a few years in the Illinois legislature. I am sorry, but the ability to give a nice speech does not put Obama in the same league as JFK or RFK.

06-06-2008, 08:13 AM
Here is what Teddy said in endorsing Obama, and my point, in incorporating those Camelot days with today and this candidate and these times.

Kennedy made the comparison, not me. I agree, however.


06-06-2008, 09:48 AM

06-06-2008, 12:16 PM
The Kennedys | Remembering Our Father


Kerry Kennedy, Joseph P. Kennedy II and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend for The New York Times: "Forty years ago today, as he was celebrating his victory in California's Democratic presidential primary, Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. To mark the occasion, the Op-Ed page invited his children to share their memories of him. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend: 'Do you know how lucky you are?' he asked me, and then repeated, 'Do you know how lucky you are? You have a great responsibility. Do something for these children. Do something for our country.'"

06-07-2008, 12:08 PM

06-08-2008, 07:57 AM
Senator Edward M. Kennedy
Tribute to Senator Robert F. Kennedy
St. Patrick's Cathedral Memorial Service
New York City, June 8th, 1968

On behalf of Mrs. Robert Kennedy, her children and the parents and sisters of Robert Kennedy, I want to express what we feel to those who mourn with us today in this Cathedral and around the world. We loved him as a brother and father and son. From his parents, and from his older brothers and sisters--Joe, Kathleen and Jack--he received inspiration which he passed on to all of us. He gave us strength in time of trouble, wisdom in time of uncertainty, and sharing in time of happiness. He was always by our side.

Love is not an easy feeling to put into words. Nor is loyalty, or trust or
joy. But he was all of these. He loved life completely and lived it intensely.

A few years back, Robert Kennedy wrote some words about his own father and they expressed the way we in his family feel about him. He said of what his
father meant to him: "What it really all adds up to is love--not love as it is described with such facility in popular magazines, but the kind of love that is affection and respect, order, encouragement, and support. Our awareness of this was an incalculable source of strength, and because real love is something unselfish and involves sacrifice and giving, we could not help but profit from it.

"Beneath it all, he has tried to engender a social conscience. There were wrongs which needed attention. There were people who were poor and who needed help. And we have a responsibility to them and to this country. Through no
virtues and accomplishments of our own, we have been fortunate enough to be born in the United States under the most comfortable conditions. We, therefore, have a responsibility to others who are less well off."

This is what Robert Kennedy was given. What he leaves us is what he said, what he did and what he stood for. A speech he made to the young people of South Africa on their Day of Affirmation in 1966 sums it up the best, and I would read it now:

"There is a discrimination in this world and slavery and slaughter and
starvation. Governments repress their people; and millions are trapped in
poverty while the nation grows rich; and wealth is lavished on armaments

"These are differing evils, but they are common works of man. They reflect the imperfection of human justice, the inadequacy of human compassion, our lack of sensibility toward the sufferings of our fellows.

"But we can perhaps remember--even if only for a time--that those who live with us are our brothers; that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek--as we do--nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

"Surely this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men. And surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again.

"Our answer is to rely on youth--not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease. The cruelties and obstacles of this swiftly changing planet will not yield to obsolete dogmas and outworn slogans. They cannot be moved by those who cling to a present that is already dying, who prefer the illusion of security to the excitement and danger that come with even the most peaceful progress. It is a revolutionary world we live in; and this generation at home and around the world, has had thrust upon it a greater burden of responsibility than any generation that has ever lived.

"Some believe there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world's ills. Yet many of the world's great movements, of thought and action, have flowed from the work of a single man. A young monk began the Protestant reformation, a young general extended an empire from Macedonia to the borders of the earth, and a young woman reclaimed the territory of France. It was a young Italian explorer who discovered the New World, and the thirty-two-year-old Thomas Jefferson who proclaimed that all men are created equal.

"These men moved the world, and so can we all. Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the
mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

"Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change. And I believe that in this generation those with the courage to enter the moral conflict will find themselves with companions in every corner of the globe.

"For the fortunate among us, there is the temptation to follow the easy
and familiar paths of personal ambition and financial success so grandly spread before those who enjoy the privilege of education. But that is not the road history has marked out for us. Like it or not, we live in times of danger and uncertainty. But they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history. All of us will ultimately be judged and as the years pass we will surely judge ourselves, on the effort we have contributed to building a new world society and the extent to which our ideals and goals have shaped that effort.

"The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of new ideas and bold projects. Rather it will belong to those who can blend vision, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals and great enterprises of American Society.

"Our future may lie beyond our vision, but it is not completely beyond our control. It is the shaping impulse of America that neither fate nor nature nor the irresistible tides of history, but the work of our own hands, matched to reason and principle, that will determine our destiny. There is pride in that, even arrogance, but there is also experience and truth. In any event, it is the only way we can live."

This is the way he lived. 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."

06-09-2008, 10:30 AM
The story behind Theodore White's eulogy for JFK linked the Kennedys and Camelot

12/06/07 · by Jack Coleman

On this day in 1963, an essay by Theodore White in the Dec. 6 issue of Life
magazine inexorably linked Camelot and the Kennedys for decades to come - and resulted from an interview with Jacqueline Kennedy on a stormy Friday night in Hyannisport on Thanksgiving weekend,#one week after JFK was assassinated in Dallas.

In the essay, White wrote - "When Jack quoted something, it was usually
classical,"#she said, "but I'm so ashamed of myself - all I keep thinking of is this line from a musical comedy.

"At night, before we'd go to sleep, Jack liked to play some records; and the
song he loved most came at the end of this record. The lines he loved to#hear were: Don't let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot."

"She wanted to make sure that the point came clear and went on: 'There'll be great Presidents again - and the Johnsons are wonderful, they've
been wonderful to me - but they'll never be another Camelot again.

"Once, the more I read of history, the more bitter I got. For a while I thought history was something that bitter old men wrote. But then I realized that
history made Jack what he was. You must think of him as this little boy, sick so much of the time, reading in bed, reading the Knights of the Roundtable, reading Marlborough. For Jack, history was full of heroes. And if it made him this way - if it made him see the heroes - maybe other little boys will see. Men are such a combination of good and bad. Jack had this hero idea of history, the idealistic view ...

" ... She said it is time people paid attention to the new President and the new First Lady. But she does not want them to forget John F. Kennedy or read of him only in dusty or bitter histories:

"For one brief shining moment there was Camelot."

White, shown in the photo at right,#described the interview in great detail in his 1981 book, "In Search of History."

"I left the house the morning after Thanksgiving to visit my dentist, and was taken from the dentist's chair by a telephone call from my mother saying that Jackie Kennedy was calling and needed me ... Making a call back to Hyannisport,

I found myself talking to Jacqueline Kennedy, who said there was something that she wanted Life magazine to say to the country, and I must do it ... I called and learned I could rent no plane because a storm hovered over Cape Cod ... In a rented limousine, with a strange chauffeur, in a driving rainstorm, I made my way back to New England."

When White arrived at the compound, he found

Jacqueline Kennedy with Pat Lawford, one of JFK's sisters, Dave Powers, a close aide to her husband, Chuck Spalding, a classmate of Kennedy's and Franklin Roosevelt Jr. "She did not want anyone there when she talked to me," White wrote. "So they left ... she had asked me to Hyannisport, she said, because she wanted to make certain that Jack was not forgotten in history ... over the telephone, before I had undertaken to come to Hyannisport, she had angrily commented on several of the journalists who by now were writing the follow-up stories, assessing the President, just dead, by his achievements. She wanted me to rescue Jack from all these 'bitter people' who were going to write about him in history. She did not want Jack left to the historians.

"Well, then, I said, concerned for her sorrow, tell me about it. At this, then,
there poured out several streams of thought which mingled for hours. There was the broken narrative, the personal unwinding from the horror, the tale of the killing. Then there was the history part of it. And parts too personal for
mention in any book but one of her own ...

"So the epitaph on the Kennedy administration became Camelot#- a magic moment in American history, when gallant men danced with beautiful women, when great deeds were done, when artists, writers and poets met at the White House, and the barbarians beyond the walls held back " -
Theodore White, "In Search of History," 1981

" ... Out of all of this, then, being both a reporter and a friend, I tried to
write the story for which Life's editors were waiting in New York. I typed in
haste and inner turmoil in a servant's room and a Secret Service agent, who had been sleepless for days, burst in on me and snarled, 'For Christ's sake, we need some sleep here.' But I went on; and in 45 minutes brought out the story she was waiting for ...

" ... Life was waiting, and at 2 a.m. I tried to dictate the story from the
wall-hung telephone in the Kennedy kitchen. She came in while I was dictating the story to two of my favorite editors, Ralph Graves and David Maness, who, as good editors, despite a ballooning overtime printing bill, were nonetheless
trying to edit and change phases as I dictated.# Maness observed that maybe I had too much 'Camelot' in the dispatch. Mrs. Kennedy had come in at that moment, having penciled over the copy of the story with her changes; she had overheard the editor trying to edit me, who had already so heavily edited her. She shook her head.

She wanted Camelot to top the story. Camelot, heroes, fairy tales, legends were what history was all about. Maness caught the tone in my reply as I insisted
this had to be done as Camelot. Catching my stress, he said, 'Hey, is she
listening to this now?' I muffled the phone from her, went on dictating, and
Maness let the story run.

"So the epitaph on the Kennedy administration became Camelot#- a magic moment in American history, when gallant men danced with beautiful women, when great deeds were done, when artists, writers and poets met at the White House, and the barbarians beyond the walls held back.

"Which, of course, is a misreading of history. The magic Camelot of John F.
Kennedy never existed. Instead, there began in Kennedy's time an effort of
government to bring reason to bear on facts which were becoming almost too complicated for human minds to grasp.

No Merlins advised John F. Kennedy, no Galahads won high praise in his service. The knights of his round table were able, tough, ambitious men, capable of kindness, also capable of error, but as a group of men more often right than wrong and astonishingly incorruptible. What made them a group and established their companionship was their leader. Of them all, Kennedy was the toughest, the most intelligen, the most attractive - and inside, the least romantic. He was a realistic dealer in men, a master of games who understood the importance of ideas. He assumed his responsibilities fully. He advanced the
cause of America at home and abroad. But he also posed for the first time the great question of the sixties and seventies:
What kind of people are we Americans? What do we want to become?

"For 25 years, from the day of my graduation and departure for China, I had been fascinated by the relationship of Leader to Power, of the State to Force, of the Concept to Politics - and most recently of the Hero to his Circumstances. I had given unquestioning loyalties to all too many
men, as one does when one is young, and I would give guarded affection to
several more in years to come. But I would never again, after Kennedy, see any man as a hero. A passage in my own life had closed with a passage in American politics."

(credit for illustration, http://www.grahamphillips.net/); for photo of White, http://www.dorchesteratheneum.org/)

06-10-2008, 08:00 PM
This is ZagNative's memoire of that era, and the Gonzaga connection to the Kennedys. I enrolled as a freshman at Holy Names College, which was an all-women's college south across the street from Holy Names Academy, from which I was graduated spring of '60. The boyfriend of my best friend in college, Phyllis, was the President of the Young Democrats at Gonzaga, and so Phyl and I became involved with campaigning for Jack Kennedy.

As President of the Gonzaga Young Democrats, my friend's boyfriend was charged with responsibility for squiring the presidential candidates around. Lyndon Johnson and Jack Kennedy both rode in Phyllis' blue '59 Ford Fairlane when they visited Spokane. They were escorted by police and an entourage, but it amazes me they didn't ride in some kind of bulletproof limousine but instead graced the interior of Phyllis' modest Ford.

When Phyllis' beau dropped Kennedy off at the hotel, he invited the beau up to his room for a drink and asked him if he wanted to take anything with him. He chose to exit with a six-pack of beer.

I attended the election night party in the Davenport Hotel, but I'm so sorry to report that the only thing I remember about the evening was the ride I took upstairs in an elevator crowded with absolutely breathtaking Canadian Mounties in their dress reds! Well, who can blame me? An experience like that can leave a girl's gray matter badly scrambled amid a sea of scarlet gorgeousnes.

One thing I do remember from that campaign was going to the Spokane Airport to greet Jack Kennedy when he came here to campaign. My overriding memory of that experience was that it was before the new terminal opened. The terminal at that time was a small down-at-the-heels cafe-type place, with open tarmac for the candidates to cross.

I know. I was privileged to have been alive and involved at that time and to have had some small role in helping to make history, and all I came out of the experience was a memory of a time of joy and promise and optimism, and a memory of a man who was a master of language, who inspired us to truly believe in the concept of asking not what our country could do for us but what we could do for our country.

I had been born just after the start of the Second World War, and though I had been too young to remember the tinfoil drives and other ways that citizens pitched in to contribute what they could with the war effort, the mentality of personal sacrifice for a shared goal greater than oneself was so ingrained that we were anxious to make a personal contribution, even a substantial contribution, because it was the right and noble thing to do. (We were not encouraged, for example, to "go shopping.")

My mother used to regularly sucker me into doing some disagreeable task by asking, "Say! Do you want to do something for your country?" "Oh, yes! Please," I'd walk into her invitation again and again, only to realize moments later I'd been had once again.

The sadness is still there, about the promise interrupted, but I feel the beginnings of belief and optimism once again.


If I have scrambled any (or all) details in my recollections, I would just make this disclaimer: Much as it may surprise and disappoint you, beer was drunk at Gonzaga University Young Democrats functions circa 1960, which may have clouded ZN's recollections of the day.

06-14-2008, 07:46 AM
Thank you, President and Mrs. Clinton and Chelsea, for being here today. You've shown extraordinary kindness through the course of this week.

Once, when they asked John what he would do if he went into politics and was elected president, he said, "I guess the first thing is call up Uncle Teddy and gloat." I loved that. It was so like his father.

From the first day of his life, John seemed to belong not only to our family, but to the American family. The whole world knew his name before he did. A famous photograph showed John racing across the lawn as his father landed in the White House helicopter and swept up John in his arms. When my brother saw that photo, he exclaimed, "Every mother in the United States is saying, 'Isn't it wonderful to see that love between a son and his father, the way that John races to be with his father.' Little do they know, that son would have raced right by his father to get to that helicopter."

But John was so much more than those long ago images emblazoned in our minds. He was a boy who grew into a man with a zest for life and a love of adventure. He was a pied piper who brought us all along. He was blessed with a father and mother who never thought anything mattered more than their children.

When they left the White House, Jackie's soft and gentle voice and unbreakable strength of spirit guided him surely and securely to the future. He had a legacy, and he learned to treasure it. He was part of a legend, and he learned to live with it. Above all, Jackie gave him a place to be himself, to grow up, to laugh and cry, to dream and strive on his own.

John learned that lesson well. He had amazing grace. He accepted who he was, but he cared more about what he could and should become. He saw things that could be lost in the glare of the spotlight. And he could laugh at the absurdity of too much pomp and circumstance.

He loved to travel across the city by subway, bicycle and roller blade. He lived as if he were unrecognizable, although he was known by everyone he encountered. He always introduced himself, rather than take anything for granted. He drove his own car and flew his own plane, which is how he wanted it. He was the king of his domain.

He thought politics should be an integral part of our popular culture, and that popular culture should be an integral part of politics. He transformed that belief into the creation of "George." John shaped and honed a fresh, often irreverent journal. His new political magazine attracted a new generation, many of whom had never read about politics before.

John also brought to "George" a wit that was quick and sure. The premier issue of "George" caused a stir with a cover photograph of Cindy Crawford dressed as George Washington with a bare belly button. The "Reliable Source" in The Washington Post printed a mock cover of "George" showing not Cindy Crawford, but me dressed as George Washington, with my belly button exposed. I suggested to John that perhaps I should have been the model for the first cover of his magazine. Without missing a beat, John told me that he stood by his original editorial decision.

John brought this same playful wit to other aspects of his life. He campaigned for me during my 1994 election and always caused a stir when he arrived in Massachusetts. Before one of his trips to Boston, John told the campaign he was bringing along a companion, but would need only one hotel room. Interested, but discreet, a senior campaign worker picked John up at the airport and prepared to handle any media barrage that might accompany John's arrival with his mystery companion. John landed with the companion all right < an enormous German shepherd dog named Sam he had just rescued from the pound.

He loved to talk about the expression on the campaign worker's face and the reaction of the clerk at the Charles Hotel when John and Sam checked in. I think now not only of these wonderful adventures, but of the kind of person John was. He was the son who quietly gave extraordinary time and ideas to the Institute of Politics at Harvard that bears his father's name. He brought to the institute his distinctive insight that politics could have a broader appeal, that it was not just about elections, but about the larger forces that shape our whole society.


06-14-2008, 08:09 AM
John F Kennedy#-#Eulogy.

By Senator Jacab Javits#at a Senate Memorial Service#(1963)

Mr. President, hundreds of thousands of words have been published, and hundreds of thousands more have been spoken into the microphones of the world since John F. Kennedy was struck down in Dallas, but none of them were really adequate. Words never are in the face of senseless tragedy.#

Words cannot describe how the American people felt when they lost their president. Not until the vacuum of disbelief was filled with the horror of comprehension did any of us realize how much we identified ourselves, even apart from personal friendship, with the president -- this intellectual, vigorous young man -- and he would have been that if he were eighty -- expressing the very essence of the youthfulness of our nation. It seems of little consequence now that there were political differences, or objections to this or that legislative product, though as far as I am concerned there was a very large measure of agreement. What matters is that feeling of loss -- that personal sense of emptiness -- that all Americans feel because their president was cut off in the prime of life. As a nation, we have lost a president who understood the institution of the presidency, gloried in its overwhelming responsibilities, and discharged his duties with dash and joy, which were an inspiration to the youth of our nation.#

But John F. Kennedy was more than that. He was a man filled with the joy of living. He was a husband, a father -- and my friend.#

For myself, I remember coming to Congress the same day he did. We were sworn in together on the same January day in 1947. A photograph on my office wall shows that we two, returning veterans, looked a little uncomfortable at the moment in our civilian clothes. It shows us looking at the Taft-Ellender-Wagner housing bill, and it recalls the first job we did together when we called on the National Veterans Housing Conference of 1947, which we had organized, to back this bill. It was the beginning of an association which extended throughout our careers in the House and Senate. We collaborated in many bipartisan matters, as is not unusual in the Congress. Indeed, in our service together in the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, we worked closely -- as did Senator Morse and others -- on the minimum wage bill, the Labor-Management Disclosure Act, and other similar measures which were major aspects of Senator Kennedy's legislative career.#

I am a personal witness to the fact that he was resourceful, optimistic, and creative. He became and was my friend, and this is a deep source of gratification to me and to Mrs. Javits and our family.#

Mrs. Javits, too, knew President Kennedy well and admired him greatly. She will, I know, always think of the president's graciousness and the warmth of personal friendship which he exuded.#

Only a week before his tragic passing, I saw him in the Oval Room at the White House when he accepted the report of the Advisory Committee on Medical Care for the Aged, in which Senator Anderson and I joined, and issued a statement offering encouragement and help.#

He was vigorous and healthy and smiling and friendly -- a complete human being, concerned about other human beings who were no longer as vigorous and not quite as healthy as they used to be.#

This concern for the unfortunate by a many with all of the social graces and all the social status and as much power as America allows one man was what made him so much the symbol of the youth of our country. His wife, Jacqueline, who has given Americans so much reason to be very proud of her and of all American womanhood as she reflected in it, in these last mournful weeks, in the way she carried herself, has said the most beautiful tribute -- that John F. Kennedy had the "hero idea of history," and that she did not want people to forget John F. Kennedy -- the man -- and replace him with some shadowy figure in the history books.#

She need not fear that. There are already thousands upon thousands of people in the world working to keep his memory alive. I have been privileged to join with many others in this body in cosponsoring a bill to rename the National Cultural Center and make it a living, vibrant memorial to this vibrant man who loved the arts. And with Senator Humphrey, I have joined in a bill establishing a commission to ensure that only the most appropriate memorials be created in his honor.#

These are well-meaning, deeply sincere tokens -- necessary, but still tokens. In reality it will be John F. Kennedy's youthful freshness in his aspirations for our country that will keep his memory fresh.#

In a real sense we, his former colleagues in the Congress, are the only ones with the power to write words which can transform these aspirations into memorials with meaning. We can write legislative acts, like a meaningful civil rights law, which would consecrate and perpetuate John F. Kennedy's love for personal and national dignity. We can exorcise from our country -- and the American people are doing that even now -- those extremes of hatred and disbelief in public affairs which create a climate in which terrible acts become much more likely.#

Acts such as these will be his final memorials. It is within our power to establish them. Perhaps his noblest memorial is that he would have wanted such memorials almost as no others.#

So, in common with my colleagues in this solemn service -- and that is what this is today -- I bespeak for Mrs. Javits and my children -- and I would place their names in the Record, so that as they read this Record when they grow up, I hope they will read their names in it and see that their father spoke with deep sympathy -- Joy, Joshua, and Carla, to Mrs. Kennedy and the children, and to the president's father and mother and his brothers and sisters and their families our deepest sympathy on this terrible bereavement, for our nation and for all mankind, and in the deep expectation that flowers will grow from his grave for the benefit of man.


06-14-2008, 08:15 AM
Eulogy by Senator Edward M. Kennedy for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

May 23, 1994
Church of St. Ignatius Loyola
New York, New York

Last summer, when we were on the upper deck on the boat at the Vineyard, waiting for President and Mrs. Clinton to arrive, Jackie turned to me and said: ‘Teddy, you go down and greet the President.’

But I said: ‘Maurice is already there.’

And Jackie answered: ‘Teddy, you do it.# Maurice isn’t running for re-election.’

She was always there – for all our family – in her special way.

She was a blessing to us and to the nation – and a lesson to the world on how to do things right, how to be a mother, hot to appreciate history, how to be courageous.# No one else looked like her, spoke like her, wrote like her, or was so original in the way she did things.# No one we knew ever had a better sense of self.

Eight months before she married Jack, they went together to President Eisenhower’s Inaugural Ball.# Jackie said later that that’s where they decided they liked inaugurations.

No one ever gave more meaning to the title of first lady.# The nation’s capital city looks as it does because of her.# She saved Lafayette Square and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Jackie brought the greatest artists to the White House, and brought the arts to the center of national attention.# Today, in large part because of her inspiration and vision, the arts are an abiding part of national policy.

President Kennedy took such delight in her brilliance and her spirit.# At a White House dinner, he once leaned over and told the wife of the French Ambassador, “Jackie speaks fluent French.# But I only understand one out of every five words she says – and that word in DeGaulle.”

And then, during those four endless days in 1963, she held us together as a family and a country.# In large part because of her, we could grieve and then go on.# She lifted us up, and in the doubt and darkness, she gave her fellow citizens back their pride as Americans.# She was then 34 years old.

Afterward, as the eternal flame she lit flickered in the autumn of Arlington Cemetery, Jackie went on to do what she most wanted – to raise Caroline and John, and warm her family’s life and that of all the Kennedys.

Robert Kennedy sustained her, and she helped make it possible for Bobby to continue.# She kept Jack’s memory alive, as he carried Jack’s mission on.

Her two children turned out to be extraordinary, honest, unspoiled, and with a character equal to hers.# And she did it in the most trying of circumstances.# They are her two miracles.

Her love for Caroline and John was deep and unqualified.# She reveled in their accomplishments, she hurt with their sorrows, and she felt sheer joy and delight in spending time with them.# At the mere mention of one of their names, Jackie’s eyes would shine brighter and her smile would grow bigger.

She once said that if you “bungle raising your children nothing else much matters in life.”# She didn’t bungle.# Once again, she showed how to do the most important thing of all, and do it right.

When she went to work, Jackie became a respected professional in the world of publishing.# And because of her, remarkable books came to life.# She searched out new authors and ideas.# She was interested in everything.

Her love of history became a devotion to historic preservation.# You knew, when Jackie joined the cause to save a building in Manhattan, the bulldozers might as well turn around and go home.

She had a wonderful sense of humor – a way of focusing on someone with total attention – and a little girl delight in who they were and what they were saying. It was a gift of herself that she gave to others.# And in spite of all her heartache and loss, she never faltered.

I often think of what she said about Jack in December after he died: ‘They made him a legend, when he would have preferred to be a man.’# Jackie would have preferred to be just herself, but the world insisted that she be a legend too. She never wanted public notice – in part I think, because it brought back painful memories of an unbearable sorrow, endured in the glare of a million lights.

In all the years since then, her genuineness and depth of character continued to shine through the privacy, and reach people everywhere.# Jackie was too young to be a widow in 1963, and too young to die now.

Her grandchildren were bringing her new joy to her life, a joy that illuminated her face whenever you saw them together.# Whether it was taking Rose and Tatiana for an ice cream cone, or taking a walk in Central Park with little Jack as she did last Sunday, she relished being Grandjackie and showering her grandchildren with love.

At the end, she worried more about us than herself.# She let her family and friends know she was thinking of them.# How cherished were those wonderful notes in her distinctive hand on her powder blue stationary!

In truth, she did everything she could – and more – for each of us.

She made a rare and noble contribution to the American spirit.# But for us, most of all she was a magnificent wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend.

She graced our history.# And for those of us who knew and loved her – she graced our lives.


10-31-2010, 03:02 PM
Theodore C. Sorensen, 82, Kennedy Counselor, Dies

George Tames/The New York Times
Theodore C. Sorensen with President John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office in 1961. More Photos »
Published: October 31, 2010
MultimediaJeff Zeleny and Joseph Berger contributed reporting.
SLIDE SHOW: Theodore C. Sorensen Dies at 82
Theodore C. Sorensen, one of the last living links to John F. Kennedy’s administration, who did much to shape the president’s narrative, image and legacy, died Sunday in Manhattan. He was 82 and lived in Manhattan.

He died in NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital from complications of a stroke he suffered a week ago, his wife, Gillian Sorensen, said. A previous stroke, in 2001, had taken away much of his eyesight, but in its aftermath “he led a very full life, speaking, writing, creating new enterprises and mentoring many young people,” she added.

Mr. Sorensen once said he suspected the headline on his obituary would read: “Theodore Sorenson, Kennedy Speechwriter,” misspelling his name and misjudging his work, but he was much more. He was a political strategist and a trusted adviser on everything from election tactics to foreign policy.

“You need a mind like Sorensen’s around you that’s clicking and clicking all the time,” President Kennedy’s archrival, Richard M. Nixon, said in 1962. He said Mr. Sorensen had “a rare gift”: the knack of finding phrases that penetrated the American psyche.

He was best known for working with Mr. Kennedy on passages of soaring rhetoric, including the 1961 inaugural address proclaiming that “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans” and challenging citizens: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Mr. Sorensen drew on the Bible, the Gettysburg Address and the words of Thomas Jefferson and Winston Churchill as he helped hone and polish that speech.

First hired as a researcher by Mr. Kennedy, a newly elected senator from Massachusetts who took office in 1953, Mr. Sorensen collaborated closely — more closely than most knew — on “Profiles in Courage,” the 1956 book that won Mr. Kennedy a Pulitzer Prize and a national audience.

After the president’s assassination, Mr. Sorensen practiced law and politics. But in the public mind his name was forever joined to the man he had served; his first task after leaving the White House was to recount the abridged administration’s story in a 783-page best-seller simply titled “Kennedy.”

He held the title of special counsel, but Washington reporters of the era labeled him the president’s “intellectual alter ago” and “a lobe of Kennedy’s mind.” Mr. Sorensen called these exaggerations, but they were rooted in some truth.

President Kennedy had plenty of yes-men. He needed a no-man from time to time. The president trusted Mr. Sorensen to play that role in crises foreign and domestic, and he played it well, in the judgment of Robert F. Kennedy, his brother’s attorney general. “If it was difficult,” Robert Kennedy said, “Ted Sorensen was brought in.”

Mr. Sorensen was proudest of a work written in haste, under crushing pressure. In October 1962, when he was 34 years old, he drafted a letter from President Kennedy to the Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, which helped end the Cuban missile crisis. After the Kennedy administration’s failed coup against Fidel Castro at the Bay of Pigs, the Soviets had sent nuclear weapons to Cuba. They were capable of striking most American cities, including New York and Washington.

“Time was short,” Mr. Sorensen remembered in his interview with The Times, videotaped to accompany this obituary. “The hawks were rising. Kennedy could keep control of his own government, but one never knew whether the advocates of bombing and invasion might somehow gain the upper hand.”

Mr. Sorensen said, “I knew that any mistakes in my letter — anything that angered or soured Khrushchev — could result in the end of America, maybe the end of the world.”

The letter pressed for a peaceful solution. The Soviets withdrew the missiles. The world went on.

Theodore Chaikin Sorensen was born in Lincoln, Neb., on May 8, 1928 — Harry S. Truman’s 44th birthday, as he was fond of noting. He described himself as a distinct minority: “a Danish Russian Jewish Unitarian.” He was the son of Christian A. Sorensen, a lawyer, and Annis Chaikin, a social worker, pacifist and feminist. His father, a Republican who had named him after Teddy Roosevelt, ran for public office for the first time that year; he served as Nebraska’s attorney general from 1929 to 1933.

Lincoln, the state capital, was named for the 16th president. Near the statehouse stood a statue of Abraham Lincoln and a slab with the full text of the Gettysburg Address. As a child, Mr. Sorensen read it over and over. The Capitol itself held engraved quotations; one he remembered was “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

He earned undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Nebraska and, on July 1, 1951, at the age of 23, he left Lincoln to seek his fortune in Washington. He knew no one. He had no appointments, phone numbers or contacts. Except for a hitchhiking trip to Texas, he had never left the Midwest. He had never had a cup of coffee or written a check.

Eighteen months later, after short stints as a junior government lawyer, he was hired by John F. Kennedy, the new Democratic senator from Massachusetts. Mr. Kennedy was “young, good-looking, glamorous, rich, a war hero, a Harvard graduate,” Mr. Sorensen recalled. The new hire was none of those, save young. They quickly found that they shared political ideals and values.

“When he first hired me,” Mr. Sorensen recalled, Mr. Kennedy said: “ ‘I want you to put together a legislative program for the economic revival of New England.’ ” Mr. Kennedy’s first three speeches on the Senate floor — late in the evening, when nobody was around — presented the program Mr. Sorensen proposed.

SLIDE SHOW: Theodore C. Sorensen Dies at 82
Senator Kennedy made his mark with “Profiles in Courage,” published in January 1956. It was no great secret that Mr. Sorensen’s intellect was an integral part of the book. “I’ve tried to keep it a secret,” he said jokingly in his interview with The Times. But Mr. Sorensen drafted most of the chapters, and Mr. Kennedy paid him for his work. “I’m proud to say I played an important role,” Mr. Sorensen said.

He spent most of the next four years working to make his boss the president of the United States. “We traveled together to all 50 states,” Mr. Sorensen wrote in his book “Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History,” a memoir published in 2008, “most of them more than once, initially just the two of us.” There was no entourage until Mr. Kennedy won the Democratic nomination in 1960. It was not clear at the outset that he could do that, much less capture the White House.

“It was only after we had crisscrossed the country and began to build support at the grass roots, largely unrecognized in Washington, where Kennedy was dismissed as being too young, too Catholic, too little known, too inexperienced,” Mr. Sorensen said in the interview.

In those travels, Mr. Sorensen found his own voice as well as Mr. Kennedy’s. “Everything evolved during those three-plus years that we were traveling the country together,” he said. “He became a much better speaker. I became much more equipped to write speeches for him. Day after day after day after day, he’s up there on the platform speaking, and I’m sitting in the audience listening, and I find out what works and what doesn’t, what fits his style.”

The Kennedy White House was never a Camelot: “Neither Kennedy nor any of us who worked with him were mythical characters who had magical powers,” he said, “and we obviously had our share of mistakes.” But Mr. Sorensen was not ashamed to say he worshipped President Kennedy. He was devastated by his assassination in November 1963.


10-31-2010, 03:03 PM
“It was a feeling of hopelessness,” he said, “of anger, of bitterness. That there was nothing we could do. There was nothing I could do.”

For more than 40 years after he left the White House, Mr. Sorensen practiced law, mostly as a senior partner at the New York firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. He counseled leaders including Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Anwar Sadat of Egypt.

His life went on, in public and private; he was writing and making speeches well past his 80th birthday. But it was never the same.

In 1970, two years after Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated on the presidential campaign trail, Mr. Sorensen ran for the Senate seat that Robert Kennedy had held in New York. The run was a mistake, he conceded. “I simply thought that if I were to carry on the Kennedy legacy, if I were to perpetuate the ideals of John Kennedy, as Robert Kennedy tried to do, that I would need to be in public office,” he said. “Frankly, it was an act of hubris on my part.”

In December 1976, out of the blue, President-elect Jimmy Carter offered Mr. Sorensen the post of director of central intelligence. “I had to make a very quick decision,” Mr. Sorensen remembered. “I did not know whether a lawyer and a moralist was suitable for a position that presides over all kinds of law-breaking and immoral activities. But I wanted to be involved. I wanted to be back in government at a position where I could help things in a sound and progressive way, and so I said, ‘Yes, I accept.’ ”

Opponents of the nomination pointed out a potential problem. More than 30 years before, after the end of World War II, Mr. Sorensen, not yet 18, had registered with his draft board as a conscientious objector to combat. President-elect Carter’s top aide, Hamilton Jordan, placed an angry call to Mr. Sorensen, asking why he had not mentioned this suddenly salient fact before accepting the nomination.

“I said, ‘I didn’t know that the C.I.A. director was supposed to kill anybody,’ ” Mr. Sorensen recalled. “He wasn’t too happy with that answer.”

The nomination was withdrawn. That ended Mr. Sorensen’s ambition to return to work in Washington.

Mr. Sorensen remained active in Democratic politics and took a particular liking to a freshman senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, when he arrived in Washington in 2005. When Mr. Obama began running for president two years later, Mr. Sorensen endorsed his candidacy and campaigned across the country, particularly to audiences who were opposed to the Iraq war.

SLIDE SHOW: Theodore C. Sorensen Dies at 82
“It reminds me of the way the young, previously unknown J. F. K. took off,” Mr. Sorensen said in an interview with The Times in 2007.

A year after Mr. Obama took office, Mr. Sorensen acknowledged frustration with his presidency, particularly the decision to send more troops to Afghanistan, a conflict that he called “Obama’s Vietnam.” But, Mr. Sorensen said, “The foreign policy problems are more difficult than they were in Kennedy’s day.”

“I still think it was amazing that a man with his skin color — and also he was a liberal Democrat, let’s face it — was elected,” Mr. Sorensen said in a 2009 interview in his Manhattan apartment, where a photograph of Mr. Obama joined a tableau of images from the Kennedy administration. “I haven’t the slightest doubt that there are a lot of white men who still find it difficult to accept the fact, the reality, that we have a black president in this country.”

President Obama said in a statement on Sunday, “I know his legacy will live on in the words he wrote, the causes he advanced, and the hearts of anyone who is inspired by the promise of a new frontier.”

Mr. Sorensen’s 1949 marriage to Camilla Palmer and his 1964 marriage to Sara Elbery ended in divorce. In 1969 he married Gillian Martin. She survives him, along with their daughter, Juliet Sorensen Jones; three sons from Mr. Sorensen’s first marriage, Eric, Stephen and Phil; a sister, Ruth Singer; brother, Phillip; and seven grandchildren.

Despite his stroke in 2001 and diminishing eyesight, Mr. Sorensen worked on and completed “Counselor,” his memoir, over the next six years. “I still believe that the mildest and most obscure of Americans can be rescued from oblivion by good luck, sudden changes in fortune, sudden encounters with heroes,” he concluded. “I believe it because I lived it.”

11-01-2010, 12:51 PM
most eloquent speech writer for any president in my lifetime. He wrote wonderful books as well. It is a reminder for those of us who fondly remember the era of JFK, that life is speeding along, ever faster, and it shall never be the same. He will be missed, and so will his eloquence. I never knew he came from Nebraska, and that gives him even greater credibility in my mind. Thangs Gamagin for posting this. Sili