Friday, August 28, 2009

So Long to a Senator

I have to hand it to my local YMCA. They make it very difficult to make excuses about exercising.

On most of the machines that are there for aerobic exercise, whether treadmills, elypticals or cycles, there are little televisions into which you can plug earphones and watch and listen while you exercise.

Believe me, I take advantage of this little luxury. Anything that will hasten the time or help me go into another dimension while I am huffing and puffing is a good thing.

This morning while doing my stepping on the elyptical machine, I watched the funeral mass for Senator Edward Kennedy who died earlier this week.

Now, as I have said about others of Kennedy's left-leaning persuasion, I would have never, ever voted for him. Not in this lifetime; not on this planet.

Still, as I have also said about President Barack Obama, I think if I had ever had the chance to meet Senator Kennedy, I would have liked him. I think we could have been friends. We even share, I believe, some of the same ideological principles; we just have always had different theories on carrying them out.

Today, as I watched his funeral and listened to the eulogies, I was struck once again by what a remarkable country we live in.

Sitting in the audience were Kennedy's admirers, but also some of his strongest detractors. Republicans sat among Democrats; liberals among conservatives. Three former presidents and one sitting one also paid their respects.

For events such as this, we are very civil. We know how to put politics aside and honor a statesman who served his country with distinction; a public servant who championed causes in which he strongly believed; a family man who endured more tragedy in his family than most of us will ever know, and who, as the "baby" of his own family, by default became its patriarch.

There is a lot of needless bickering, partisan yammering and turf-protecting pettiness in U.S. government; of that there is no doubt. But on days when we need to, we can pull ourselves together, suck it up and remind the world what we're made of.

That gives me encouragement about the future of this country; that gives me hope. And I believe that is exactly what Senator Kennedy would have wanted his funeral to do.


Andrew said...

Great summation!

Pam said...

You know, Bob, I watched it, too, as I was cleaning my fish tanks. I was struck by all the things I never knew about the man, admirable things.

No, I didn't agree with most of his politics and I will always feel he got away with, basically, killing someone due to his family and privilege.

However, who are we to judge? As flawed humans can't we turn our lives around and gain redemption by how we live our lives as we move forward? Senator Kennedy did just that.

When I think of how he became a father to the children of his dead brothers, all the personal stories of things he did for others, tbe things he did for the victim families of 911 who came from his State, I'm left with a new respect for the man.

These were little but meaningful personal things that were never showy and done from a sense of personal obligation.

Like you, I was struck by the disparate assembly of people at his funeral Mass.

This was a man who was beloved and respected by not only his family and friends, but by his colleagues and all the people whose lives he touched in a personal way.

Hal Johnson said...

Bob, you again prove to be a conservative with a conscience. Thanks.

Debby said...

You really are able to look at things squarely and fairly. You know, I really, really respect that about you.

quid said...

I really view his story as a tale of some redemption. I think the Kopechne incident, the William Smith incident, and probably a lot more than we don't know (wasn't that first wife haunted and in pain for most of her life) tells me that this was a man who might have accomplished a lot and lived through a lot of tragedy, but who still couldn't put aside his ethical demons.

Something... that love for the second wife? The wisdom we all get from looking back and wishing we could do it all over again? Something turned those last 20 or so years around to help redeem the lifetime. I loved all the stories of kindness, across the aisles, and with allies and young folks, that had never been made public before.

Not a big fan of much of his lifetime, but, in addition to the kindness, you can never say that he cared and tried to do what he could to raise the standard of living for those who don't have wealth in this country.

Good post, Bob.

Steve H. said...

Fantastic post Bob! I feel the same way. He came from the old school where you disagreed on the floor and went out and had a beer later. He and Reagan were great friends.

Too many liberals and conservatives need to take a chill pill and relax