Thank you, President and Mrs. Clinton and
Chelsea, for being here today. You've shown extraordinary kindness through the
course of this week.
Once, when they asked John what he would do if he went into politics and was
elected president, he said, "I guess the first thing is call up Uncle Teddy and
gloat." I loved that. It was so like his father.
From the first day of his life, John seemed to belong not only to our family,
but to the American family. The whole world knew his name before he did. A
famous photograph showed John racing across the lawn as his father landed in the
White House helicopter and swept up John in his arms. When my brother saw that
photo, he exclaimed, "Every mother in the United States is saying, 'Isn't it
wonderful to see that love between a son and his father, the way that John races
to be with his father.' Little do they know, that son would have raced right by
his father to get to that helicopter."
But John was so much more than those long ago images emblazoned in our minds. He
was a boy who grew into a man with a zest for life and a love of adventure. He
was a pied piper who brought us all along. He was blessed with a father and
mother who never thought anything mattered more than their children.
When they left the White House, Jackie's soft and gentle voice and unbreakable
strength of spirit guided him surely and securely to the future. He had a
legacy, and he learned to treasure it. He was part of a legend, and he learned
to live with it. Above all, Jackie gave him a place to be himself, to grow up,
to laugh and cry, to dream and strive on his own.
John learned that lesson well. He had amazing grace. He accepted who he was, but
he cared more about what he could and should become. He saw things that could be
lost in the glare of the spotlight. And he could laugh at the absurdity of too
much pomp and circumstance.
He loved to travel across the city by subway, bicycle and roller blade. He lived
as if he were unrecognizable, although he was known by everyone he encountered.
He always introduced himself, rather than take anything for granted. He drove
his own car and flew his own plane, which is how he wanted it. He was the king
of his domain.
He thought politics should be an integral part of our popular culture, and that
popular culture should be an integral part of politics. He transformed that
belief into the creation of "George." John shaped and honed a fresh, often
irreverent journal. His new political magazine attracted a new generation, many
of whom had never read about politics before.
John also brought to "George" a wit that was quick and sure. The premier issue
of "George" caused a stir with a cover photograph of Cindy Crawford dressed as
George Washington with a bare belly button. The "Reliable Source" in The
Washington Post printed a mock cover of "George" showing not Cindy Crawford, but
me dressed as George Washington, with my belly button exposed. I suggested to
John that perhaps I should have been the model for the first cover of his
magazine. Without missing a beat, John told me that he stood by his original
John brought this same playful wit to other aspects of his life. He campaigned
for me during my 1994 election and always caused a stir when he arrived in
Massachusetts. Before one of his trips to Boston, John told the campaign he was
bringing along a companion, but would need only one hotel room. Interested, but
discreet, a senior campaign worker picked John up at the airport and prepared to
handle any media barrage that might accompany John's arrival with his mystery
companion. John landed with the companion all right < an enormous German
shepherd dog named Sam he had just rescued from the pound.
He loved to talk about the expression on the campaign worker's face and the
reaction of the clerk at the Charles Hotel when John and Sam checked in. I think
now not only of these wonderful adventures, but of the kind of person John was.
He was the son who quietly gave extraordinary time and ideas to the Institute of
Politics at Harvard that bears his father's name. He brought to the institute
his distinctive insight that politics could have a broader appeal, that it was
not just about elections, but about the larger forces that shape our whole
Page 2 - Edward Kennedy's Eulogy to JFK j.r.