K is for Kennedys

Like a lot of Americans, I was most fascinated by the lives of the children and some of the grandchildren of Joseph Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the first President I REALLY remember, though I was born shortly after Dwight Eisenhower was inaugurated. Naturally, I recall the assassination all too well.

I’ve expressed my ambivalence about Bobby Kennedy.

And I was terrified when Teddy Kennedy decided to challenge Jimmy Carter for the 1980 Democratic nomination for President; I was convinced if he won the general election, he would die, not just because his brothers all died violently, including his eldest brother Joe, in World War II. It was also the 20-year curse that every President elected or re-elected in a year ending in zero since 1840 had died in office (WH Harrison, Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Harding, FD Roosevelt, JFK), which Ronald Reagan finally broke.

Both Teddy, who became the “Lion of the Senate” for working effectively with both Republicans and Democrats; and Eunice Shriver, a strong advocate of the Special Olympics, died August 2009. Ted’s daughter Kara, who spoke at his funeral, died in September 2011 at the age of 51.

The public interest in the Kennedys continues. Perhaps it’s because 2011 is the 50th anniversity of JFK’s inauguration as President of the United States, with us trying to decipher what that means today.

Programs continue to be made about them, including The Kennedy Detail, a 2010 documentary about the JFK assassination, and The Kennedys, an eight-hour 2011 miniseries that was dropped by The History Channel as historically inaccurate, but run by the little-known ReelzChannel, which garnered 10 Emmy nominations, and a win for Barry Pepper, who played Bobby Kennedy.

And this month, the transcripts of historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.’s more than than eight hours of interviews with JFK’s widow, Jacqueline from 1964 are being released by daughter Caroline in a new book, Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, that was published on September 14, with a two-hour ABC News preview the night before.
***
Fred Hembeck’s essay about Tom Clay’s version of Abraham, Martin and John, which features me.


ABC Wednesday – Round 9

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41 thoughts on “K is for Kennedys

  1. Such an unhappy family, haunted by the past and almost all of them died an unnatural death. I saw a series about the Kennedys. They were a dynasty.
    So your daughter likes kangaroos too!

  2. I was at sick and home the day JFK was assassinated. My mother came up to my bedroom and said to wrap up well and come downstairs to watch the TV. History in the making! Apparently, at my school everything stopped for a while, too. And we’re in CANADA! Western Canada!! It certainly was world-wide history. Just lately, I was talking to one of my students about the Bay of Pigs and I told him that I remembered sitting at the kitchen table not saying a word after my Dad said “Shhh…” and we all listened to the radio announcer and others discussing the crisis. The Kennedys had an influence worldwide, I think, and no one will ever forget any of them! Great post, Roger.

    Leslie
    abcw team

  3. We did get to watch the interviews with Jacqueline, JFK’s widow, just a few days ago!! He was one of the most loved US President in India and he shared a special rapport with Mr Jawaharlal Nehru who was then the PM here!! Though they were close to Mr Nehru, I remember her saying in the interview, that she was not fond of his daughter Mrs Indira Gandhi, who later became the Prime Minister, and served the longest term. I clearly remember his assassination and the radio news coverage when I was little and in school. Also remember the series of calamities that plagued the family!! 🙂

  4. Wow, Roger. Of course, I had to check out what your friend said about you, then check out YouTube for the Tom Clay recording, and here I am, late for everything this morning. But thank you, so much. A wonderful post.

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

  5. They are such a fascinating family. So much sadness and tragedy. They certainly lived in a world that I am not familiar with at all.
    I have very special memories of being a part of the high school band that flew all the way from California to march in JFK’s Inaugural Parade.
    It was an amazing time for us teenagers.

  6. While I was born and bred to be liberal, it does not elude me that the Kennedys were a rich family. Much like George W. Bush, John Kennedy never had to work an actual job his whole life, and he was sheltered from much hardship. (Unlike GWB, he actually had to SERVE in the military!)

    I was in second grade when the news came to our school. Never knew teachers cried until that day. Also, I did campaign for Bobby Kennedy when he ran for president. I was 12, stuffing envelopes… I had a big bumper sticker on the back of my clipboard for school, like a heart on my sleeve.

    Looking back, I think it was not a good move for Bobby to be appointed Attorney General under his brother. He should have been in Washington, no doubt, but not in an official capacity.

    Finally, we must remember that the Lion of the Senate also had some mistakes in his past that no doubt spurred him to greater public service, although that did the Kopechne family no good. But Teddy is rolling in his grave at the botched health care bill, because he fought for universal health care for so many years. God rest them all. Amy

  7. SP- In brief, I thought he was an opportunistic SOB, yet he and/or his wife managed to convey the sense of noblesse oblige to their children, so that was good.

  8. I was in Grade 3 when JFK was killed and remember the day. Of course I was a bit older when RFK and Martin Luther King Jr. were killed and remember both of those individuals and deaths from a bit different perspective. Oh the sadness of the sixties.

  9. Yes, JFK was the first president I remember and I definitely remember where I was when he was killed. There is still such a aura surrounding them Wonder what this newer generation of Kennedy’s will accomplish?

  10. I always remember the day when Kennedy was murdered. I was shopping with my mother and we heard it in a supermarket. Although the medias where not so good at that time as now, and we had TV only in the evenings, it was a shock to the Western World ! He was very much loved in Germany since his famous phrase “Ich bin ein Berliner” !

  11. They are a fascinating family. I think my fascination began when a friend of mine discovered old Life editions with stills from the Zapruder film, we must have been 12 or so. I know that we watched JFK together when it was released on video in 1992. I only found out much later just how big that family is and how much has been going on there.

  12. Rog, thoughtfulness and honesty, plus information one could find nowhere else: the hallmarks of your posts. Very glad you were (still are?) a political junkie and a music junkie!
    The Kennedy clan defined my early adulthood. JFK was the first president I voted for (someone to make young Irish Catholics feel proud…..) and RFK the first I campaigned for with heart and soul.
    Thanks for a great post on K-day.
    HelenMac
    ABC Team

  13. The Kennedy’s are endlessly fascinating. I’ve heard some of the excerpts from the taped interviews of Jackie K. I wonder if her later, mature self would still stand by some of her beliefs of that earlier period in her life?

  14. Really enjoyed this post. What is it about the Kennedy’s? Will people feel this way about other political families in the future? The Clintons, maybe?

    Don’t know but I too have always been fascinated – maybe because I was a kid when JFK was assassinated, but it was so traumatic for us all…

  15. I read some of the extracts from the book – Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was a highly privileged, privately educated woman married to a scion of a powerful, rich family and later to a rich Greek magnate. There’s much to ponder and question in the Kennedy clan.

  16. I was living in Canada when JFK died. I didn’t know much about American politics then — nor Canadian politics for that matter, since we had only been in Canada a couple of years. Our political interest was all wrapped up with WW2 still. Although the war ended in 1945 its effects still were reverberating over the next couple of decades.

  17. I belonged to the same generation as you. I remember as a kid, listening to the news of Kennedy’s assassination. We were in Borneo, and had no radio or TV, my parents were talking.

  18. Hello Roger.
    Fascinating post & also enjoyed reading your friend’s post about you.
    The Kennedys seem to be one big unhappy family…don’t think I’d ever want to live in their shoes.

    Thanks for sharing & for the visit too.

    Kiss Me With Desire

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