A Quieted Voice
I can’t really pinpoint when the Kennedy family hit my radar screen. I grew up when John Jr. was a hunk, many years after his father and uncle had been assassinated. I wasn’t a child of the 50s or 60s when John and Bobby Kennedy were a major part of the political fiber of this country. But throughout my life, I’ve learned a lot about them and what they tried to do for this country.
Bobby Kennedy has always been my favorite, and today is the 40th anniversary of the day he died. Yesterday was the anniversary of the day he was shot, but he didn’t die until the early morning hours of June 6th, 1968. If you haven’t seen the film Bobby, I highly recommend it along with the TV movie RFK. Be forewarned, though you know it’s coming, you will still jump when the gun goes off. After his death and his funeral mass in New York City, Bobby’s coffin was returned to Washington, DC via train for interment at Arlington National Cemetery as part of the JFK memorial. His gravesite is simple in comparison to his brother’s, but I prefer it that way. Bobby always seemed like the odd Kennedy out. Sure he came from this huge, wealthy family and went on to have his own huge, wealthy family, but his life’s work was cemented in the causes of the less fortunate.
The New York Times ran three op-ed piecesby three of Bobby’s children yesterday telling of what their father and his vision meant to them. He was a man well before his time with a vision that this country needed (and still needs) but wasn’t quite ready for. His assassination saddens me still because I’ve always wondered what this country would be like today if Bobby had been allowed to finish that ’68 campaign and hopefully win the Presidency. Would his vision have become a reality? Would we have eradicated poverty and illiteracy? Would there be true equality? Would the word “justice” actually mean something we could believe in? Would there be peace? I wonder if this country is even ready for a vision like this now, 40 years later.
I wonder too about Bobby’s legacy. His vision never seeing the real light of day isn’t what strikes me as the most important piece. It is his courage, his determination, his willingness to fail greatly in order to achieve greatly. He tried all the time to close the class system, to recognize where people were hurting, and find a way to make the pain stop. No, his greatest legacy was not his plans for this country. His greatest legacy was that he didn’t just listen to people, he heard them and worked to give them a voice.