The Kennedy Legacy

Not just politics as usual

Posts tagged Kennedys

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Most people live their lives as if the end were always years away. They measure their days in love, laughter, accomplishment, and loss. There are moments of sunshine and storm. There are schedules, phone calls, careers, anxieties, joys, exotic trips, favorite foods, romance, shame, and hunger. A person can be defined by clothing, the smell of his breath, the way she combs her hair, the shape of his torso, or even the company she keeps. All over the world, children love their parents and yearn for love in return. They revel in the touch of parental hands on their faces. And even on the worst of days, each person has dreams about the future—dreams that sometimes come true. Such is life. Yet life can end in less time than it takes to draw one breath.
Bill O’Reilley, Killing Kennedy

Filed under Kennedy Kennedys RFK JFK

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The marriage of Washington’s best-looking young senator to Washington’s prettiest inquiring photographer took place in Newport R.I. this month and their wedding turned out to be the most impressive the old society stronghold had seen in 30 years. As John F. Kennedy took Jacqueline Bouvier as his bride, 600 diplomats, senators, social figures crowded into St. Mary’s Church to hear the Archbishop of Boston perform the rites sand read a special blessing from the pope. Outside, 2,000 society fans, some come to Newport by chartered bus, cheered the guests and the newlyweds as they left the church. There were 900 guests at the reception and it took Senator and Mrs. Kennedy two hours to shake their hands. The whole affair, said one enthusiastic guest, was “just like a coronation.”                                 - Life Magazine, September 12 1953

The marriage of Washington’s best-looking young senator to Washington’s prettiest inquiring photographer took place in Newport R.I. this month and their wedding turned out to be the most impressive the old society stronghold had seen in 30 years. As John F. Kennedy took Jacqueline Bouvier as his bride, 600 diplomats, senators, social figures crowded into St. Mary’s Church to hear the Archbishop of Boston perform the rites sand read a special blessing from the pope. Outside, 2,000 society fans, some come to Newport by chartered bus, cheered the guests and the newlyweds as they left the church. There were 900 guests at the reception and it took Senator and Mrs. Kennedy two hours to shake their hands. The whole affair, said one enthusiastic guest, was “just like a coronation.”

                                 - Life Magazine, September 12 1953

Filed under Kennedys 60 years later Marriage of the Century Jackie Kennedy John F. Kennedy Jack Kennedy JFK Kennedy

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Kennedys hail ruling as vindication of Ted’s fight

ictoria Kennedy, the widow of the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, cheered the U.S. Supreme Court today for upholding the historic health care reform that her husband had helped to craft and urged voters to unite behind the legislation.

“We still have much work to do to implement the law, and I hope we can all come together now to complete that work. The stakes are too high for us to do otherwise,” Kennedy wrote in a statement. “As my late husband Senator Edward Kennedy said: ‘What we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.’ ”

The statement came after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called both Victoria Kennedy and Patrick Kennedy after the verdict.

I spoke to Vicki Kennedy this morning and to Patrick Kennedy … thanking them for the important role he played,” Pelosi said, referencing the late senator. “I knew that when he left us he would go to heaven and help pass the bill … and now he can rest in peace. His dream for American families has become a reality.”

Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy sent a plea yesterday morning urging Democrats to give to support the law.

“If the Court upholds the law, dangerous Tea Party extremists will go on a rampage,” the younger Kennedy warned in an e-mail titled, “My father and I fought for this.”

Joseph P. Kennedy III, who is running for Congress, said in a statement: “Today’s decision is a victory for this country – for our seniors who won’t have to make the tragic choice between food and medicine, for people with pre-existing conditions who won’t get turned away by insurance companies, and for young adults who won’t get thrown off their parents’ policies. The decision allows us to build on the remarkable progress we have made so far and brings us closer to what my uncle spent his career fighting for — the idea that health care is not just a basic need, but also a basic right.”

Filed under Kennedy Kennedys Ted Kennedy

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Kick Kennedy in HBO pilot ‘The Newsroom’

Robert F. Kennedy’s granddaughter has nabbed her first big acting break: Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy has scored a role in Aaron ‘The West Wing’ Sorkin’s HBO pilot. The Newsroom, a show about cable news, also stars such boldface names as Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Olivia Munn, and Dev Patel. Of course, Hollywood is nothing new for the Kennedy clan: Kathleen’s great-grandfather, Joseph P. Kennedy, formed one of the Big Five studios.

Filed under Kick Kennedy Kennedys Kennedy Bobby Kennedy RFK RFK Jr Kathleen Kennedy

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Michael Kennedy Endowment

The Michael LeMoyne Kennedy [MLK] Endowment was established more than a decade ago from the generosity of our dear family and friends in remembrance of my late husband Michael. I wanted to do something special to honor Michael and the wonderful work he did around the world. Of the many things Michael was involved with, the microfinance work of Opportunity International was very close to his heart. In 1996 Michael, his mother Ethel and I, along with other family members and friends had the privilege to visit Opportunity clients in Soweto, South Africa (retracing the same journey his father RFK took in 1966). After that Michael visited clients in Colombia, and as CEO of the non-profit Citizens Energy Corp, contributed $80,000 in grants to Opportunity.

I am happy to share that since that time, the MLK Endowment has also funded Opportunity programs in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Kenya, Colombia, and Rwanda, along with leadership training and the hiring of HIV/AIDS transformation officers in Africa. In Colombia, the MLKE has helped fund a program to finance private schools and train staff to provide a quality education to impoverished students that would otherwise have no such access. To date, the MLKE has impacted the lives of 4,795 of the most marginalized and hardworking people in the world. I have personally traveled to see 7 of the trust groups sponsored by the MLK Endowment in Mexico, Peru, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic. It is a true joy to see how our partnership with Opportunity International allows thousands of clients to overcome the inherent obstacles of poverty and build a more stable, secure, and fulfilling future.

This year to celebrate Michael and the 10 years of his endowment’s work, we will be supporting Opportunity’s newest microfinance entity in the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the very poorest and least served countries in the world. Please join us in bringing this proven solution to the Congolese and empower them to conquer poverty with dignity and hope.

With gratitude, warm wishes, and love, Vicki.

Filed under Kennedy Kennedys Michael Kennedy

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"We were incredibly close, all of us, through all our younger years and after. The Cape house was our base. Our whole lives were centered in this one place. It was all here — all the playing, all the enjoyment, all the fun. For me it still is. And always shall be."

— Senator Edward Kennedy in his memoir, True Compass

History of the Kennedy Cape House in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts

When Joseph P. Kennedy and his wife Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy purchased the home at 50 Marchant Avenue in Hyannis Port on October 31, 1928, they could not have known the important place it would hold both to their family and to American history.

Few families have impacted American life in such far-reaching ways as the Kennedy family, and it all begins with nine siblings and two amazing parents. The home in Hyannis Port, described by Senator Kennedy as “the base,” is the place where values were taught, lessons were learned, characters were built, and history-making events took shape.

It is the place from which three United States Senators grew up, one of whom became President. It was home to the Kennedy sisters, who dedicated their lives to people with intellectual disabilities by founding the Special Olympics and the Very Special Arts. Their contributions through numerous charitable works have touched the lives of millions of Americans.

The Kennedy Compound

The history of the house dates back to 1904. Beulah A.B. Malcom had a 15-room, white clapboard house built at 50 Marchant Avenue in Hyannis Port, Mass. The site was about two and a half acres, with a lawn running down to Nantucket Sound.

The Kennedys rented the house for the summer for several years before purchasing it themselves. At time of the purchase the house, the family included seven of the Kennedys’ eventual nine children. Over the next two decades the house was remodeled and expanded to accommodate the growing family.

John F. Kennedy purchased a nearby home in 1956, and shortly thereafter his brother Robert also purchased a neighboring house. For a time Jean Kennedy Smith and her husband Stephen E. Smith owned a home in the neighborhood as well. This cluster of family residences became known as “The Kennedy Compound.” Eunice and Sargent Shriver owned a home nearby as well.

The Kennedy family became an integral part of the local community. They considered this area their home. In 1957, to honor eldest son Joseph P. Kennedy, killed in World War II, Mr. Kennedy donated $150,000 toward the construction of a skating center in Hyannis because, as he said in the letter dedicating the center, “Here, in this lovely and friendly area our son Joe and his brothers and sisters lived and laughed and grew through many sunny and happy days.” (The Fruitful Bough, 1965)

Growing Up

"One of the first things that I remember on arriving at your home was the regular noontime swims with you and Mr. Kennedy and all the children down at the Taggart’s pier. The children all looked forward to being with you and displaying their swimming and diving ability and how they improved. It was great fun when you and Mr. Kennedy would form a big circle with the older children and then Teddy, Jean and Bobby would swim first to the nearest them and gradually work up to the farthest away."

—Elizabeth Dunn Anderson, a governess writing a recollection about Mrs. Rose Kennedy in Grace Above Gold (1997)

As the children grew, they spent the summers learning to sail and swim in the waters of Hyannis Port. The competitive touch football games, made so famous in iconic family photos, were also a regular occurrence on the large lawn adjacent to the house.

When remembering his brother Joe Kennedy, John F. Kennedy wrote, “We would spend long hours throwing football with Bobby, swimming with Teddy, and teaching the younger girls how to sail.” Younger brother Teddy had his own memory of his big brother, when Joe threw him into the cold water during a sailing race. “I was scared to death practully. I then heard a splash and I felt his hand grab my shirt and then he lifted me into the boat. We continued the race and came in second.” (As We Remember Joe, 1945, with young Teddy’s uncorrected spelling.)

Their time learning these skills impacted them throughout their lives. Senator Edward Kennedy attributed to those swimming lessons his brother John’s survival in the water for days when his PT boat sunk during World War II. The competitive streaks that became ingrained in the family were evident during political fights in the years to come.

Growing up at the house, the children were also exposed to various leaders and dignitaries who came to visit Joseph Kennedy, who joined the Roosevelt Administration, first as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1934 and then as head of the Maritime Commission in 1937. Prominent visitors joined the children’s friends as guests for dinner, and one frequent presence was Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston.

Political Life at the Cape

The house was also the site of major political decisions. In August 1945, John F. Kennedy, decided to run for the House of Representatives in 1946, the first of his six winning elections. In the spring of 1952, the family house was the site of meetings to plan JFK’s successful campaign for the Senate that year against the Republican incumbent, Henry Cabot Lodge. Political aides of JFK, like Larry O’Brien and Kenny O’Donnell were frequent guests. And in November 1956, John F. Kennedy, in consultation with his family, decided that he would seek the Presidency in 1960.

On Election Night 1960 and the day after, many members of the family stayed at the house as they gathered to follow returns and then celebrate JFK’s victory. The well-known post victory family photo, with President-elect and Mrs. Kennedy, his parents, siblings, and their spouses, was taken in the living room of the house.

Throughout the summer in 1961, on weekends, JFK’s helicopter would land on the lawn after he flew in to nearby Otis Air Force base. That summer he stayed at his own house, and met with Administration officials there. But in 1962 and 1963, seeking greater privacy, JFK rented homes on Squaw Island, a half mile away, where his youngest brother, Edward M. Kennedy, had a home. Visitors like Averell Harriman came to report on negotiations that produced the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The National Security Council met at Squaw Island in 1963.

In July 1982, the house became the main residence of Senator Edward Kennedy. A few months later, he gathered ten family members, including nieces, nephews, and his own three children, for a meeting to talk about whether he should run for President again in 1984. They held the meeting on the day after Thanksgiving next door at President Kennedy’s old house, and he was persuaded not to run, but rather to make the Senate his life. His children were the most decisive voice. In December 1985, he decided not to run in 1988 and assembled staffers and associates at the house to tell them and to make arrangements to tell the country.

He still used the house in connection with his Senate duties, making it a command center in the summer of 1987 as he prepared for hearings on the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, and in the summer of 2005 as he prepared for hearings on the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court. But it was largely a place of respite, where he sailed, relaxed, and entertained, delighting in showing visitors the historic pictures that crowd the walls, and the theater from which, as a boy, he was ushered off to bed when the movie action turned romantic. Governors, Senators, President Clinton, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton, then-Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown and a series of Irish Prime ministers were among his guests. Some came for events, but many came just to talk in the morning and sail in the afternoon. Members of the extended Kennedy family returned every Thanksgiving.

In a rare formal function at the house, on September 23, 2008, President Michelle Bachelet of Chile presented Senator Kennedy with her nation’s Order of Merit, a human rights award for his support of democracy in Chile.

Dark Days on the Cape

Sadly, the Kennedy family has weathered tragedies both public and private. It was September 1939 when the war changed the Kennedys’ lives dramatically. Joseph P. Kennedy was serving as ambassador in London, doubtful about Britain’s chances, when war broke out. He promptly sent his wife and children home, to the house on the Cape and their other homes in Bronxville and Palm Beach. Then on Sunday afternoon, August 13, 1944, two priests came to the Cape house to tell Joe and Rose that their eldest son, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., a Navy pilot, had been killed in action.

Their second son, John F. Kennedy was on hand, recuperating after heroism in the Pacific. To cheer the other children up, he took them out sailing that afternoon. Nearly four years later, most of the family gathered again at the house after receiving the news that Kathleen Kennedy Hartington, the Kennedys’ fourth child, had died in a plane crash in France.

On November 22, 1963, Senator Edward Kennedy and his sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, flew up to Hyannis Port from Washington to tell their father that President Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas.

Several years later at the house, on November 16, 1969, Joseph P. Kennedy, 81, died. His beloved wife Rose lived to be 104, passing away also in the home on January 22, 1995.

On May 17, 2008, Senator Kennedy was in his beloved Cape house when he felt the effects of what would be later diagnosed as a malignant brain tumor. On June 2 he underwent surgery at the Duke University Medical Center and returned home to the Cape to recuperate. Later that summer he worked at the house on the speech he would deliver at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, saying Barack Obama as President “will close the book on the old politics” and lead a “renewal for our nation.”

On August 25, 2009, in the home where it all began, Senator Kennedy died at the age of 77.

Future Generations

"There is nothing half so pleasant as coming home again."

—Margaret Elizabeth Sangster (American poet and editor)

The Kennedy family has been coming home to Hyannis Port since the early 1920’s and continues to, to this day. The house on 50 Marchant Avenue has been the site of numerous family weddings, baptisms, and other celebrations. Most recently, Senator Kennedy’s son, Patrick was married in the summer of 2011 at the house.

In fulfilling his mother’s wishes that the home be preserved and open to the public in some way, Senator Kennedy made preparations for the donation of the house to the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. His widow Vicki Kennedy gifted the home to the Institute in December 2011.

Filed under Edward M. Kennedy Hyannis Port JFK Joe Kennedy John F. Kennedy Joseph Kennedy Joseph P. Kennedy Kennedy Kennedys Patrick Kennedy Rose Kennedy Ted Kennedy Ted Kennedy Jr Vicki Kennedy Rose Kennedy

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RFK feared Mafia would blind his children in acid attack

Robert F Kennedy feared his children would be blinded by the mafia in an acid attack as revenge attack for investigating them, his widow has revealed.

Speaking out for the first time in 30 years, Ethel Kennedy said that her late husband was anxious they would be targeted as retaliation for his probe into mafia racketeering.

He saw a report about an American journalist who had been blinded in an acid attack by the mob and feared they would do the same to him.

The disclosure will add to conspiracy theories that the mafia may have been responsible for Kennedy’s death.

He was shot dead by Sirhan Sirhan in 1968 but speculation has raged that his crusade against the mob whilst serving as U.S. Attorney General may have be the root of his demise.

Mrs Kennedy, 83, said that her husband was scared after New York Post journalist Victor Riesel was blinded in an acid attack because of articles he had written about the mob.

‘We were told they were going to do the same with our children,’ she said.

Eldest daughter Kathleen, one of several siblings also interviewed in the film, recalls, “We couldn’t leave [school] with the other kids at the end of the day. We had to wait in the principal’s office to be picked up.’’

The documentary “Ethel,’’ which will play on HBO later this year, offers an extraordinary look into the private lives of a celebrated family that was at the center of some of the most famous events, triumphant and tragic, of the 20th century.

Asked about her husband’s 1968 assassination, Ethel says to her filmmaker daughter: “When we lost Daddy …” then stops, pain written on her face.

The family credits devout Roman Catholic faith with getting them through almost unendurable losses. Following the assassinations of her brother-in-law, President John F. Kennedy, in 1963, and her husband, Ethel later lost two of her 11 children — one from a drug overdose and the other in a skiing accident.

“I wake up every morning and I think of Daddy [Robert] up there with Jack and [their older brother] Joe and my parents,’’ Ethel tells her daughter Rory, the youngest of her and Bobby Kennedy’s 11 children. A noted documentary filmmaker, Rory was born six months after her father was fatally shot after winning the California Democratic presidential primary.

“When the rest of the world was grieving,’’ her mother told the children their father was in a wonderful place, says Kathleen Kennedy. “Her faith is so strong — that’s caused her to get through everything [including] losing [sons] Michael and David.’’

As Ethel puts it: “Nobody gets a free ride. “You have your wits about you and dig in because it might not last.’’

When JFK appointed his brother as attorney general, his outspoken sister-in-law quickly emerged as one of the more colorful members of the extended Kennedy clan.

At one point, she was charged with horse theft — then a hanging offense in Virginia, where the family lived on a farm — after she rescued a neighbor’s maltreated horses.

Ethel was acquitted, but JFK asked her to tone down her famous parties — after press reports of a soiree where “all the members of his cabinet were thrown in the pool,’’ Ethel’s son Joseph Kennedy recalls.

After JFK was assassinated, Ethel says, “It was like Daddy lost both arms. It was just six months of blackness.’’

The documentary includes extensive home-movie footage of the family that’s never been shown publicly — including a striking image of a stricken Bobby Kennedy sitting in quiet contemplation on the side of a road.

According to Ethel, it was very difficult for her husband to seek office for the first time, successfully capturing a US Senate seat in New York in 1964.

“Whereas Jack was a born orator, nothing came naturally to Daddy, he had to struggle for everything,’’ she says.

Rory Kennedy says HBO, where she’s made films about AIDS and human rights issues for more than a decade, had long urged her to do a film about her family, but she resisted.

“It’s not in my comfort zone, and I assumed my mother wouldn’t want to do it,’’ Rory tells The Post. “But she sat down with me for five days and answered every question in the book.’’

One of her favorite stories is that when Robert was attorney general, Ethel would take the older kids to watch sharpshooters in the basement of the FBI building (the bureau fell under Robert Kennedy’s jurisdiction).

Kathleen says in the documentary, “One day she noticed a suggestion box. She took out her signature red pen, wrote, ‘Get a new director’ and put it in the box.’’

Rory Kennedy — who will be joined by her mother and about 25 other family members for the premiere in Park City, Utah — adds that longtime FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, no fan of his nominal boss Robert Kennedy, quickly discovered what happened.

“By the time [Mom] got to my father’s office with all the kids, Daddy had already gotten the note from an irate Hoover,’’ she says.

Filed under Robert F. Kennedy Bobby Kennedy Kennedy RFK Ethel Kennedy Rory Kennedy Kennedys