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Kennedy Election Loss, Heavy Hearts For Believers In Camelot

September 2, 2020

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The election loss last night in Massachusetts for Joseph Kennedy III was more than just a political happening.  For many who have journeyed in spirit and through history with this famous family, in good times and bad, it was far more than just a campaign loss.  It was as if a part of our larger family had been impacted with a major setback.

I never shook a hand of a Kennedy at a whistle-stop or was able to stand in the back row at a campaign rally for anyone with the famous Irish name, and yet I was always able to feel like a part of the show,, the drama, the humor and broad, beaming smiles.  After all, their politics was mine, too.  Liberal Democratic values.

And the family knew precisely what they were fighting for, as they had also experienced it in their own generations and wanted the government to even the playing field for all the ones yet to come up from hardship–no matter how that hardship manifested itself. I have read the books of this family since high school and recall a term that almost punched from the pages when reading of immigrants packed on “coffin ships”.  It was an image from my teenage years that speaks to the hopes immigrants had for their new home, and the risks they took to reach it.

That is how the Kennedy family made their way to these shores, and as we know in three generations Jack Kennedy would be sworn into the presidency of our country.  What has always alerted me to the family’s pull on the nation was, following the assassination in 1963, a landslide proportion of citizens told pollsters they had voted for Kennedy in 1960.  But we know that 1960 was a squeaker election outcome.  Yes, some of the responses after Kennedy’s death was due to national grieving, but let us be clear about another fact. Politics did not always matter as the Kennedy family had passed above being just a partisan name.   They were a part of the larger family for millions in the nation.

The tales of Camelot and the beautiful and handsome faces of generations of Kennedys have left their mark on the hearts and minds of millions of my fellow citizens.  Their fame and feats have been the stuff of headlines and history, their times of crisis and funerals have showcased family solidarity and steadfastness.  The family of doers and dreamers also faced frailties and human shortcomings, which also made the headlines, and in the end, proved how very much they were like every other family in America.

So yes, today there is a real sadness in the nation among those who still know the value of history and nostalgic touchstones.  Our nation needs to have those moments from history that still evoke passion and energy and bring forth the best of us.  The Kennedy family and Camelot was such a marker.

We still love them.

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