Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Before Harry Potter there was another “boy who lived.” The metaphor falls apart quickly, but it’s what I thought of when I heard the news this morning.
His name was Edward “Ted” Kennedy. He had three brothers. One died in war. One became president and was assassinated in 1963. One ran for president in 1968 and was assassinated the same year (as was Martin Luther King, Jr.). Ted lived. He was human, he loved, he made mistakes... he also made a lot of good deals that led to good law. And some deals he may have regretted, in the end.
I had a conversation with a philosophy professor friend a few years ago, talking about defining moments in our lives. I observed, as have others, that a defining moment for my generation (I was born near the end of the baby boom) is knowing where one was when President Kennedy was shot. I was in school – first grade. My spouse was also in school – a Catholic grade school – and he remembers the nuns weeping as they dismissed classes early.
So I asked my friend where he was when Kennedy was shot. He smiled and said that raised metaphysical questions he really didn’t want to discuss. Oh. He hadn’t been born yet. What about the other Kennedy, I asked. Same answer.
Now I can ask my friend where he was when he heard that Ted had died. Ted was in the Senate longer than my friend has been alive. Surely he’ll remember.
Rest in Peace, Sen. Ted Kennedy, and thank you for all your years of service.