The Kennedy Legacy

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John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy letters to be auctioned

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By Matt Viser

WASHINGTON — A 16-year-old Bobby Kennedy, with all four front teeth chipped from playing football, was planning to head home from Milton Academy for the weekend. Writing before the Kennedy family experienced a series of tragic deaths, there was a fatalistic side to his thoughts.

“I’m going home this weekend to see my brother Jack who is now going into PT boats,” Kennedy wrote to one of his friends, “so I’m getting out to see him because he might be killed any minute.”

The letter is part of two separate batches of newly revealed correspondence — one series written by Robert F. Kennedy, the other by John F. Kennedy — that are being made public for the first time and are set to be auctioned next month at the Omni Parker House in Boston. RR Auction said it has authenticated the letters using in-house experts and outside consultants.

The two collections reveal a family in the middle of World War II, just before two members were killed in airplane accidents, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. in 1944 and Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy in 1948

The letters from John F. Kennedy were sent to the family of Harold W. Marney, one of two crew members killed when the PT-109 boat that he commanded was destroyed by a Japanese ship. A 26-year-old Kennedy wrote condolences to a family whose son had died.

“This letter is to offer my deepest sympathy to you for the loss of your son,” he wrote shortly after the August 1943 accident. “I realize that there is nothing that I can say can make your sorrow less; particularly as I know him; and I know what a great loss he must be to you and your family.”

Marney had joined the boat a week earlier to serve as engineer, Kennedy wrote, and he did his job “with great cheerfulness — an invaluable quality out here.”

 “I am truly sorry that I cannot offer you hope that he survived that night,” he wrote. “You do have the consolation of knowing that your son died in the service of his country.”

Several months later, Kennedy wrote another letter, in response to one he had received from the Marneys asking for more information about their son. The telegram they received from the Navy said little more than that their son “is missing following action in the performance of his duty.”

Kennedy again wrote his condolences, and said that all the information he had was included in the previous letter. After the Japanese destroyer hit their ship, they never saw Marney again.

After the crew reunited on a floating bow, Kennedy wrote, “we could find no trace of him, although every effort was made to find him.”

Kennedy’s heroism during the accident, in which two were killed but all the others managed to get to land and were eventually rescued, later helped lay the foundation for his rise as a national politician.

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The Marney family also wrote Kennedy after his older brother, Joe, died in a plane crash. This time the roles were reversed as they offered condolences to him.

“Boys like Harold and my brother Joe can never be replaced,” Kennedy responded in a letter with a Hyannis Port letterhead and postmarked Sept. 1, 1944. “But there is some consolation in knowing that they were doing what they wanted to do — and were doing it well.”

The items being auctioned also include the telegram that the Marneys received informing them that their son was missing, as well as the Purple Heart he was awarded.

The 18 letters to be auctioned that Robert Kennedy wrote between 1941 and 1945 were to a close friend, Peter MacLellan, whom he befriended at the Portsmouth Priory School in Rhode Island. The batch also includes nine letters from Robert’s sister Jean, whom MacLellan dated at one point.

They show Bobby as an adolescent, discussing sports, school, and girls as he mourns that he seemed to lack the charming ways of his brother.

“I am now chasing women madly but it looks as if I lack the Kennedy charm as I have yet to find a girl who likes me but then I don’t quit easily so I’m still in there struggling,” Robert Kennedy wrote to MacLellan in a letter postmarked July 3, 1944. “How’s that love life of yours?”

Kennedy showed a jovial side and a fair amount of teenage braggadocio. He signed one letter, “from your mental & physical superior and your better in football, hockey and baseball, Robert Francis Kennedy.” In another he noted, “I’m still healthy, strong . . . and good looking as ever.”

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But Kennedy also lacked some of the athletic prowess that his family was known for.

“Baseball has started and I decided to go out for it and of course got cut but I expected it so it doesn’t much matter,” he wrote in a letter postmarked March 13, 1943.

At another point, he refers to his younger brother, Teddy, and his football abilities.

“Football is going stinky due to the fact there’s a guy on 2nd team ahead of me who can play ball as well as Teddy my brother and the coach thinks he’s better than me. I guess no one appreciates my true qualities . . . The whole thing can go to Hell.”

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Ferguson Needed a Robert F. Kennedy, Not a George S. Patton

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By Burke E. Strunsky 

All across the world, we watched this week as police deployed armored vehicles, snipers and officers in military combat gear against protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, after the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Hasn’t history repeatedly shown us that an overzealous showing of force against those who have experienced genuine and lasting sociocultural marginalization just ratchets up the levels of violence? 

On April 4, 1968, the sound of gunfire shattered the senses and a body slammed against the second-floor balcony of a Memphis motel. Shockwaves of panicked emotion reverberated throughout the surrounding area and then quickly engulfed the entire world. Just hours later, Senator Robert F. “Bobby” Francis Kennedy (RFK) landed in Indianapolis, Indiana, to lead a political rally in his bid for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States. He’d been onboard the plane when he was first told of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. The crowd of mostly African Americans he was to address had not yet heard about King’s murder, and RFK felt it was his duty to deliver the tragic news rather than a rah-rah campaign speech. Fearful of violent reactions, RFK’s advisers attempted to dissuade him from speaking. The night was thick with ominous predictions, and even the police chief warned the junior senator from New York that he could not guarantee his safety.

King had become the single most transformative figure in the civil rights movement, and RFK understood that what the nation needed most was a call to healing and reconciliation. RFK stepped up to the microphone, and as he began to report what had happened to King, a giant wave of human torment rolled toward him; many in the inner-city gathering wailed and gasped, unrestrained in their shock and grief.

RFK continued with an impassioned yet humble, measured tone that viscerally captured the nature of the tragedy:

For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. But we have to make an effort in the United States; we have to make an effort to understand, to go beyond these rather difficult times. The vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.

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RFK pressed on:

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.

The climax of his brief, four-minute speech was RFK’s sharing of a quote he had memorized from his favorite poet, the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus: “In our sleep, pain which we cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.” Aeschylus was saying that no matter the nature of our particular pain, that pain couldn’t help succumbing to the power of the heart. I can think of no finer words to express how humankind’s suffering can summon forth its higher sense of nobleness.

Riots erupted across the United States, and more than 100 cities became unwilling hosts to angry mobs: 39 people were killed and another 2,500 injured. But beneath the charged Indianapolis skies, Bobby RFK had summoned heartfelt words to cool the temper of the crowd. His conviction to lead in a way that King himself would have wanted had also saved lives. That night, the band of believers left with a heavy cloud over their spirits; yet, in contrast to almost every major city in America, there were no riots in Indianapolis.

More than any politician I can think of, RFK knew how to inspire people. It wasn’t a cheap, button-pushing inspiration, but the kind that grew out of his direct awareness of what people had experienced and where they were coming from. RFK, who was killed in 1968, served as a prosecutor in his career, including acting as chief counsel for the Senate Rackets Committee and as United States Attorney General, where he pushed for civil rights even more aggressively than his brother, President John F. Kennedy.

As a prosecutor, I often look to his words for guidance. As Ferguson protestors gather more than 70,000 signatures to have St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch removed from the case, it would be helpful if Mr. McCullough took the time to read RFK’s words. Those words are hauntingly and demoralizingly, still so befitting. The bottom line is that Ferguson needed a Robert F. Kennedy, not a George S. Patton.

(Source: The Huffington Post)

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RFK Jr marries Cheryl Hines

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After dating for more than two years, Cheryl Hines and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said “I do” before a cheering crowd of friends and family Saturday at the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport, Massachusetts – under a tent at a home once owned by President John F. Kennedy and wife Jackie. 

The actress, 48, and the political activist, 60, became engaged  in May 2014. 

"It’s fun that the two families are coming together," she told PEOPLE in June. "It’s very sweet that way. I come from a big family and the Kennedys are a big family. It feels natural. It feels fun." 

Hines wore a white strapless tea-length gown by Romona Keveza for the ceremony, which took place during the family’s annual reunion. Besides many Kennedys, other guests, according to PEOPLE’s sources, included Larry David, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Sen. Ed Markey, Kevin Nealon and Ed Begley. 

The couple wed during a “casual ceremony,” before celebrating with a reception “at Teddy’s place” on the family compound, Kennedy told The New York Times.


Their union comes after the two were introduced twice by David at a ski resort in Deer Valley, Utah, followed up by a third meeting in Aspen, Colorado. “I was separated at the time, and Cheryl was still married,” Kennedy says. 

Their friendship eventually progressed “slowly at first and then all at once” to a romantic relationship. “She has as much integrity as anyone I’ve ever seen,” Kennedy says of his new wife. 

It’s the second marriage for Hines, who has a daughter, Catherine Rose, 10, with her former husband. It’s the third marriage for Kennedy. He has two children with his first wife, Emily Black, and four children with his second wife, Mary Richardson Kennedy committed suicide in May 2012 at age 52. 

And although the couple had planned to elope with their children, Hines tellsThe Times that they couldn’t leave their mothers out of the celebration – and from there the guest list just kept growing. 

"The next thing we knew, it was a wedding," she says. 

The Curb Your Enthusiasm star is looking forward to being Mrs. Kennedy. “It feels great because you know you are going to be with the person you really like to be with for a very long time,” she told PEOPLE last month. “And that’s a great feeling.” 

(Source: vanityfair.com)

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Let no one be discouraged by the belief there is nothing one person can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills, misery, ignorance, and violence. Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. And in the total of all those acts will be written the history of a generation
Bobby Kennedy

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1968: The year that forever changed America

Exactly 46 years ago today, in the early-morning hours of June 5, 1968, an assassin named Sirhan Sirhan wormed his way into the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles and shot to death Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, who had just won the California primary. Dickens’ line, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” captured 1968 as well as any words could. So much hope, so much despair.

Months earlier, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated, and no one addressed his death more movingly than Sen. Kennedy. Hours after the polls closed on June 4, 1968, RFK accepted his victory, making him the undeniable favorite to become the Democratic candidate for president. “And now it’s on to Chicago,” he said to a cheering crowd, “and let’s win there!”

Despite the gravity of the time, music filled our consciousness, with the radio playing such Top 40 chart-climbers as Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson,” the Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and Aretha Franklin’s “Think.” And, of course, the Beatles were still together, having just released “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Hit movies, such as 2001: A Space Oddysey and the comedy The Odd Couple, played to sold-out crowds.

No one would dispute the fact that Bobby Kennedy appeared on the verge of greatness. President Lyndon B. Johnson had announced months earlier that he would not seek re-election over the growing unpopularity of the Vietnam War, which Sen. Kennedy opposed. So, in the moments before Sirhan Sirhan fired the fatal shot, it looked as though Sen. Kennedy would run against Republican Richard Nixon in the 1968 election, in an eerie parallel to the 1960 race that pitted his brother, President John F. Kennedy, against Nixon, who lost to JFK in one of the closest elections in history.

In June 1968, I was 16 and months away from starting my junior year at W.W. Samuell High School in Pleasant Grove. I had never been to New York City, but there I was, with my dad, as we left our hotel and got into a cab on the streets of Manhattan on the morning of June 5, 1968. Crumpled in the back seat lay a worn, smudged copy of the New York Daily News, with a dying Robert F. Kennedy on the cover. Dad and I stared at each other in shock and disbelief, as the cabbie, his voice choking and tears welling in his eyes, told us what had happened hours earlier in Los Angeles.

It was a bizarre moment of deja vu for me and Dad, since Dallas was our home, the city where President Kennedy had been assassinated less than five years earlier. It was chilling to see the mood of New York City change dramatically from one day to the next. At the time, Robert F. Kennedy was the senator from New York; news of his death sent a hush over the city like nothing I’ve seen.

Even as a 16-year-old, I knew I was living through history and not a pretty history at that. The night before, Dad had taken me to Yankee Stadium, where I got to see an aging Mickey Mantle play in his final season. Mantle went 0-for-4 in a 3-0 Yankees’ loss to the Minnesota Twins. There was almost no one at the game; major league baseball crowds had diminished during the 1968 season, due largely to the riots that followed the assassination of Dr. King months earlier.  The announced attendance in cavernous Yankee Stadium that night was 9,131.

You hear people say that life for them was never the same after President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, and I agree. But for me, it changed even more after 1968. We had seen the three great leaders of the 1960s gunned down before our eyes, and two in one terribly awful year — 1968 — the year that changed America forever.

(Source: popcultureblog.dallasnews.com)

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People clamored to touch him like they did his brother. And he touched back; he held their hands, touched their cheeks, spoke to them in such a direct way—so heart to heart. If you asked him why he did such things, he’d say it was to ‘Save the soul of the country.’ He had more humanity than any of us.
~ Harris Wofford

People clamored to touch him like they did his brother. And he touched back; he held their hands, touched their cheeks, spoke to them in such a direct way—so heart to heart. If you asked him why he did such things, he’d say it was to ‘Save the soul of the country.’ He had more humanity than any of us.

~ Harris Wofford

Filed under RFK Bobby Kennedy

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My first assignment was to photograph Bobby and Teddy Kennedy. The story was to illustrate the point that the young were more interested in politics than ever before because of the men in politics. I spent two days with Bobby. He was so kind, polite and helpful in every way to a young photographer. I worked with him in his Senate office, and then he suggested that we should take a walk outside. At one point he said to me: ” I understand you photographed my brother, Teddy, last week. I said: Yes. He said: “Did you like him”? Yes, I replied. “But did you like him more than you like me?” At the end of the second day he ordered a car to take me to the airport and we were standing on the steps of the Senate when a dog ran out into the middle of the road. Bobby followed him holding up his hands to stop the traffic and escorted the dog across the road to safety. I learned a lesson that day to never pack my cameras away. By doing so I missed a wonderful series of shots.
~ Pat York, photographer, from her book Fame and Frame

My first assignment was to photograph Bobby and Teddy Kennedy. The story was to illustrate the point that the young were more interested in politics than ever before because of the men in politics. I spent two days with Bobby. He was so kind, polite and helpful in every way to a young photographer. I worked with him in his Senate office, and then he suggested that we should take a walk outside. At one point he said to me: ” I understand you photographed my brother, Teddy, last week. I said: Yes. He said: “Did you like him”? Yes, I replied. “But did you like him more than you like me?” At the end of the second day he ordered a car to take me to the airport and we were standing on the steps of the Senate when a dog ran out into the middle of the road. Bobby followed him holding up his hands to stop the traffic and escorted the dog across the road to safety. I learned a lesson that day to never pack my cameras away. By doing so I missed a wonderful series of shots.

~ Pat York, photographer, from her book Fame and Frame

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