Senator Edward M Kennedy (1932 - 2009)

Posted: Friday, August 28, 2009 by Travis Cody in
19

Senator Edward Moore Kennedy died on Tuesday from brain cancer. He was 77.

Smarter people than me have recorded and will continue to record the life and times of Senator Kennedy, and indeed of the entire Kennedy clan. I have no inclination to rehash the more sordid details of certain aspects of the Kennedy legacy.

You don't have to agree with me, or encourage me, or even comment here today.

I'm simply going to speak to something that is important to me...idealism and service to it.

In spite of unimaginable tragedy played out painfully publicly, the Kennedy family served. Despite some questionable choices that had tragic consequences, the Kennedy family served. And whether it was ultimately about power, the family paid full measure for the power of their idealism in service and sacrifice.



John F Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."

Robert Kennedy said, "Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and ask why not."



Senator Edward Kennedy took to heart the words of his fallen brothers and learned to live them in his own political career. He dedicated his adult life to service, and continued to build on the Kennedy political legacy of service. He encouraged all to be of service.

From the Kennedy family example of idealism, my mother took her conviction that honor is not in the type of service but rather in the act of service. She taught me to be kind, respectful, patient, and tolerant. She taught me to share what I have with those who are less fortunate. She taught me to give. She taught me to be proud and to stand tall in my idealism and to always remember that my comfort and pleasure can never be taken at the expense of anyone else.

All of those things come in part from the example of the Kennedy clan, from both their successes and failures. Whether they specifically lived these values or not, the message was spread. When I see cynicism, I reach for idealism.

To paraphrase what Ted Kennedy said of his brother Bobby...See wrong and try to right it, see suffering and try to heal it, see war and try to stop it.

All men are flawed. Powerful men are powerfully flawed. The imperfections and mistakes of a public life are writ large, as are the triumphs. One cannot fail catastrophically without first deciding to try to succeed magnificently.

At the end of a powerful, flawed, imperfect, and sometimes triumphant man's life, I say be at peace.

Edward M Kennedy (22 Feb 1932 - 25 Aug 2009)





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I believe that words have power, so this matters.

The Silence of Peace, Papa's Marbles
The Doll Box

19 comments:

  1. Well written sir. While Mr. Kennedy and I were at opposite ends of some social issues, there can be no denying that he was a part of some of the legislation that has changed this country for the better (Americans With Disabilities Act). It does appear that the next generation prefers to serve quietly for specific social causes rather than subject themselves to the relentless pressure of politics. In this day and age, I can't say that I blame them.

  1. Jeni says:

    Very well said, Trav.

  1. Akelamalu says:

    Nobody's perfect. Nice tribute Trav.

  1. Jamie says:

    Your thoughts about service reflect well on your mother and the idealism that was so much a part of the whole ideal of the Kennedy era.

  1. A lot of tragedy in that family. I feel for them.

  1. Bond says:

    "Smarter people than me have recorded and will continue to record the life and times of Senator Kennedy, and indeed of the entire Kennedy clan."

    That may be so, but your post ranks up there with those that I have read.

    The "Lion Of The senate" never wavered in his beliefs..he reached across the aisle to grab for help more times than we will ever remember...

    The politicians of today no longer have the convictions once held by those that served us.

    That is the sadness with which we are now left.

  1. He was the last of a dying breed I fear. Those who are willing to serve. I am trying very hard to instill in my daughter that what you are on this planet is not as important as what you *do* and that the greatest accomplishment any person can achieve in this life is serve the greater need in whatever way you can. We may not go to church but I think that sums up where JC stood.

  1. The Kennedy,were human and so they made some regretable mistakes.They did their best to serve as well.It is that service that I choose to remember.

  1. Coco says:

    I'm afraid I've allowed current events to whiz by me without so much as a nod in acknowledgement. I am sorry to hear of Mr. Kennedy's passing. I believe he made a difference, and that's the best that any of us can hope to achieve.

    I came over to thank you for the sage advice and your kind words of encouragement. We are taking things as they come right now and hope everyday that we'll receive a call with a solid and accurate diagnosis. That's when we'll know how to prepare for battle. Hugs from us both.

  1. Dianne says:

    beautifully put Travis
    I see your found your calm place, I never doubted you would

    and as I have mentioned before, when I seek to find my own I often think of you and the example you set

  1. Eloquent and thoughtfully stated, Travis. In today's society, idealism is often mocked. I embrace it still.

  1. Idealism is the only reason to get out of bed. What's the alternative?

  1. barb says:

    I am from the Land of Camelot, although not from a family of privilege such as the likes of the Kennedy's. The phrase that came to mind as I read your post is actually from the Book of Luke: To whom much is given, much is expected.
    -Luke 12:48

    While I did not personally care for Ted Kennedy-the man, he was a very big part of some important legislation during his time in the Senate. No one can take that away from him.

    Well written, as always, Trav.

  1. JohnH985 says:

    Very well done, sir. As per a previous post you know I have some negative feelings towards the Kennedys, but I honor their sense of commitment and the fact that they motivated so many others. Like anything I think they meant well and for now that is more than enough.

  1. jennifer says:

    Beautifully written Travis. You have such a gift for writing tributes and showing your respect.

    My heart goes out to his family. What a terrible loss this is for them to endure.

  1. This is beautiful writing, Travis:

    'All men are flawed. Powerful men are powerfully flawed. The imperfections and mistakes of a public life are writ large, as are the triumphs. One cannot fail catastrophically without first deciding to try to succeed magnificently.'

    Beautiful.

    Thanks for including the eulogy clip. I listened to it all. Very moving as his voice shook at the end. No matter that they did live large lives - when it comes down to it, Robert was Ted's brother, whom he missed terribly.

  1. Anndi says:

    You know my thoughts and feelings on his passing, his life, his dedication... his resolve to make a difference. I'm ever so grateful you shared yours, bro.

  1. Travis says:

    Driller: I think that there will again someday be politicians willing to rely on idealism to direct them toward what is right. They'll come from a generation of children that will be raised without cynicism.

    Jeni: Thank you my dear.

    Akelamalu: Indeed, but we can strive for excellence and try to do the right things.

    NNG: Thank you.

    Jamie: I feel sometimes like those who have been nostalgic for those elusive "old fashioned family values", except my nostalgia is for "old fashioned dedication to service".

    Charles: More than should be allowed.

    V: The art of compromise has been lost. Compromise is now often seen as defeat.

    Starr: I think you're doing a fine job of setting that example for the kidlet.

    Mike: Well said.

    Coco: You're going to be ok.

    Dianne: There should be a rule that we must always count to 100 prior to responding to something. Or at least to 20. That way we breathe and get some more oxygen to our brains before we go charging off on emotional side trips. Emotion is important, but it can't rule everything we do.

    Songbird: It's the mocking that really needs to stop.

    Starr: Cold rationality.

    Barb: Thank you for your thoughts.

    John: I appreciate your perspective. Some have chosen to discount all because of the private indiscretions of the Kennedy clan.

    Jennifer: This loss follows so closely to the loss of Ms Kennedy-Shriver. And so the clan turns to a very troubled generation to lead it in this new century.

    Julia: I think sometimes it can be easy to lose sight of the basic humanity of a powerful family. They are a family with powerful emotions, just like the rest of us. It was just their circumstances that were different.

    Ann: I felt it was important to make this public, if only for my own benefit.