Saturday, August 29, 2009

529. Somber Occasion

Today is one of those days that, admittedly, I need a TV. The last time was last summer for the political conventions and the Olympics, and before that the deaths of presidents Ford and Reagan. Today I am here watching, with absolute fascination, the funeral of the late United States Senator Edward Moore Kennedy.

The family has not arrived and when they do that entire right side of the church will fill up with scores, probably hundreds of Kennedy family members. Kennedy's other family, his political one in Washington, is present in force. And this is where my fascination comes in.

Sitting in the front pew is President Obama. And for the last several minutes he and former president Bill Clinton have been engaged in some conversation, longer than just a hello - several minutes. Also there are former presidents George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, and all their wives. And it is a testament to our government that they are all interacting, I'm sure catching up not only on their experiences with the former senator, but also their experiences with each other.

Earlier there was a shot of President Clinton with his arm around his vice president Al Gore. I was thinking back to the distance Gore put between his campaign for president and Clinton in 1999 and 2000. But that's politics. And this isn't really government - this is statesmanship - and I apologize for that sexist term; it is one of the few we PC people haven't found an equivalent for.

The family - America's Royalty - is now preceding into the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, faces we've all seen all our lives, watching these nieces and nephews grow up into citizens of the world, many in politics, some in private civic matters, and a hand full in trouble now and then.

The moderators are talking about which of the Kennedy offspring might want to seek this seat, should that opportunity arise. I am of an age to know that the torch was to have been passed to someone my age; someone who like so many Kennedy family members had his life cut short, although it was arguably and inadvertently by his own actions. How much different would life had been if JFK, Jr. - John-John - was still with us, here to have been a candidate for president in 2000? President Kennedy's son was two months younger than me and he was always someone I knew would one day give my generation its own version of Camelot. He was to have been the first candidate for president I voted for who was younger than me. But that wasn't to be and I would not have that vote to cast until eight years later.

I'm too young to remember President Kennedy. In papers I wrote in college, I often took the stance that he was more style than substance - that in his heart he knew what should have been done, but that the country was not ready for the type of changes that were needed. I barely remember Bobby Kennedy; I do remember his death and funeral. In my later studies I learned about his campaign for president and, if you look through some blog entries last year, I offered on several occcasions that I believed candidate Obama should have taken a US23 poverty tour through the edges of Appalachia in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. But he didn't. But I do remember Senator Ted Kennedy. I mentioned a few days ago I supported him in the 1980 primaries, the first in which I was old enough to vote for president. And I will miss him.

The hearse has arrived carrying his body and the Mass is about to begin, so I will quit here.

God Bless You, Mr. Kennedy. Rest In Peace. +

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The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.