In 1980, I got to know Ted Kennedy. His voice filled a Manhattan banquet room with the sound of hope. He was lean and strong and you could hear the echo of his brothers in his words. He showed an Irish taste for a political fight.
We were finally old enough to work, really work, on a presidential campaign, in which we could do more than just passing out literature, even suggest tactics, raise real funds, rub shoulders with Betty Bacall, scheme with Arthur Schlesinger, advance the “last” Kennedy, hear him speak and speak on his behaf in political wards across the city that doesn’t sleep.
We knew what we were about — we were finally restoring the Camelot that had been cut short by mad gun fire.
At the Democratic convention in New York in August 1980, his campaign ending short of victory, Ted warned the nation that we knew Republicans “by their long record and not their recent words ….” Some things don’t change. Kennedy summed himself up in the words of Tennyson:
“I am a part of all that I have met
[Tho] much is taken, much abides
That which we are, we are —
One equal temper of heroic hearts
Strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
Kennedy really was a part of all that he met, and gave all of himself to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
While perhaps not the way we expected in Madison Square Garden, Ted’s work went on, his cause endured, and the dream did never truly die.
Now our Irish warrior is wounded, perhaps fatally, and too soon.
We lift a prayer for a reprieve from medical science that his day of reckoning be delayed so that his heroic heart may remain part of ours longer, so that we may share more laughs, drink in his large voice, and fight by his side once again, so that we may fulfill that dream he saw that in this nation still remains incomplete.
John Flannery is a Leesburg attorney and Democratic party activist.