I grew up as a huge Robert Kennedy fan. As a young boy, I devoured books about his life and mission. Most intriguing for me was his metamorphosis into a man who grew to recognized his responsibility to help others.
With his passing in 1968, I was introduced to Senator Edward Kennedy.
Although I was only ten years old at the time, I vividly remember Robert Kennedy’s funeral. It was there that his remaining brother, Ted, quoted his fallen sibling in the eulogy that he offered. Ted reminded us of a principal that RFK cherished and lived.
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance…” (These words were spoken by Robert Kennedy at the Day of Affirmation at Capetown University — a remarkable speech worthy of your time.)
In the course of the remembrances today, I was struck by how strongly the Senator from Massachusetts took these words to heart. He believed in compromise and he understood that progress is made one step at a time, particularly when the road to be travelled is very long.
To build bridges, one broadcaster noted that Senator Kennedy would often woo and cultivate the relationships with his colleagues by visiting them in their offices armed with a plate of cookies.
What a simple and remarkable gesture!
What a beautiful way to remind others that we are all human and that the greatest way to accomplish something is to start with a generous but simple act of kindness.
There are many lessons I will draw from his remarkable legacy of service but as I sit and write these words, the two that I will likely try to further integrate in my life is to remain steadfast in the service of others and that acts of compromise and generosity led to progress.
As for the late Senator, it is my hope that he be remembered as he hoped RFK would be remembered, “simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.”
Rest in peace, Senator. You will be missed.