Kennedy – A Man With 10,000 Best Friends

To the Editor:

During the funeral services this past weekend in Boston for the late Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, a political reporter for the local ABC affiliate in Boston, John Keller, made a very interesting observation concerning the general knowledge of the life of the late elder statesman.

Mr. Keller had spent the last 30-years reporting and commenting specifically on the important questions and issues at hand in the political arena over that period of time and had spent a great deal of time interviewing Senator Kennedy about those very same issues.

Keller had to admit, that even though he had personally known Kennedy for the better part of those 3-decades, he had learned for the first time some new personal information about the senator during the weekend after his passing. He only gained this knowledge after the senator was gone and this surprised him.

Much of the important information about Kennedy’s private life was pretty much common knowledge, sometimes unfortunately so. After all, the Kennedy family has been virtually front-page news in Massachusetts for several decades, mainly because of their roots in Boston, their love of the city and their family compound on Cape Cod. Not surprisingly, if you asked any long-time resident of Boston, they could probably name several of his siblings and recite much of the family’s history. That is what made Keller’s statement all the more unusual and unexpected.

Keller admitted that even though he had covered politics in this city for a long time, and was well aware of Kennedy’s willingness to extend a helping hand to those in a time of need, he was not aware that Ted had personally contacted each and every Massachusetts’ family who had lost a loved one in the tragedy of September 11, 2001. Kennedy helped them deal with their grief and their loss. He helped some of them obtain grief counseling. Even years after the tragedy, Ted continued to stay in touch with members of these families to check up on them and see how they were getting along. Each of these families knowing only too well that Senator Kennedy himself had, unfortunately, extensive experience in dealing with grief and tragedy.

Imagine how each of these families must have felt when they received a call from Ted Kennedy, the patriarch of the Kennedy family, who had lost two brothers to assassination, John, the president of the United States, and Robert, a U.S. Senator campaigning to run for President. Senator Kennedy had also lost another older brother, Joe, and a sister, Kathleen, before he reached the age sixteen as well.

Keller also made reference to Kennedy’s personal attention to friends and colleagues, who had either lost a loved one or were recovering in the hospital after surgery or illness. Keller had not been aware that Senator Kennedy had made a practice of attending, unannounced, a funeral service for a friend or relative, of a colleague, friend or even acquaintance to offer support. Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut, a good friend of Kennedy’s, said he was delivering a eulogy for one of his own friends a few years ago when he looked up and saw Teddy sitting in the back of the church. Dodd commented, “Teddy wasn’t there for my friend because he didn’t know him. He was there for me.”

It is not so much that anyone in the Kennedy political camp, or even Senator Kennedy himself, ever sought to intentionally hide stories such as these, but more likely, that the senior Senator from Massachusetts didn’t find doing the right thing for a friend noteworthy.

Stories similar to Senator Dodd’s were revealed all weekend during both the Celebration of Life Remembrance Service at the John F. Kennedy Library, which was an Irish wake, and again at the funeral service in Boston.

Sincerely,
Frank Bilotta

The services were carried live on all Boston local stations, ABC, NBC, CBS, and C-Span on Dish Network.

Congressman William Delahunt, D-Quincy proclaimed, “Ted Kennedy was a man with 10,000 ‘best friends’, and I was one of them.

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