When John Kennedy was elected President, I was only ten years old – my most vivid memory is of his picture on the front page of the newspaper the day after the election, and at that point I didn’t really have an interest in anything more important than my own daily concerns. I do remember his commanding speech during the Cuban missile crisis, and I shed many tears in the days following his assassination; the drum rolls as the funeral cortege made its way through Washington are a particularly poignant memory. The tragic assassination of Robert Kennedy when I was seventeen troubled me deeply. I cried as I watched this brave family once again bury a beloved son, father and uncle. But I still did not comprehend the impact this family would have on the quality of life for those of us born with less opportunity in this country.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I truly realized and honored the Kennedy family tradition and belief that those who have been given much owe much in return. This is a family that has been blessed with intelligence, a strong work ethic, a deep faith and a resulting wealth. Obviously, they have struggled with staggering personal tragedies and the quirks and flaws of their own personalities. But, they have all attempted to uphold the family tradition of giving the best of themselves to their family and their country, and especially to those less fortunate.
Tonight, I would like to bid a loving farewell and offer my blessings to Senator Ted Kennedy. My tears flow as I write this. I feel we average citizens have lost our most loyal and dedicated champion. This man has worked unceasingly to make life better for those with the least power and voice in our society. I pray that the next generation of his family will continue the good works they have already begun in the Kennedy name, and take care of each other as he cared for them all. I pray that Congress will work together to craft legislation for a universal health care program that will honor his years of effort in this issue so important to the well-being of us all.
Most of all, I would like to say a loving thank you and good-bye to this youngest son who ended up carrying the torch for this remarkable family who sacrificed so much for the good of society.