Ted Kennedy and “Veritas”

          Of all the stories about Senator Edward Kennedy’s early life, the one that resonates with me involves his cheating on a Spanish exam during his sophomore year at Harvard. As a result of this incident, he was removed from the school and ended up enlisting in the military. Unlike his brothers, Edward would not be an officer. He served his country as an ordinary soldier.  After two years of service, he returned to Harvard before heading on to law school and then a life of public service.

          For all of his shortcomings — and they were many — no one can deny that Edward Kennedy was one of the most successful Senators in US history, and many believe that a large part of this success was a direct result of his being able to understand and work well with all kinds of people.

           I can’t help but wonder if that experience – where he spent 24 months living and working with fellow soldiers from a great variety of backgrounds – was a key part of all of this. And I wonder, too, what might have happened if Harvard had simply ignored his offense, if they had simply said, “Well, it was just a mistake, a youthful indiscretion…” Because Harvard did the “hard right thing,” Ted Kennedy learned a painful lesson and was a better man for it.

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One Response to “Ted Kennedy and “Veritas””

  1. Ellen Psychas Says:

    Hi Jim!
    A couple 70s recollections you might enjoy…I met Ted Kennedy when I was five years old, in ’72, at a McGovern rally in Springfield Mass. I was sitting on Dad’s shoulders (anybody else we know who would bring his first-grader to a political rally in a union hall?) when Kennedy and McGovern entered the packed chamber: a great cheer went up and Ted slapped my outstretched hand en route to the podium. Six years later, I stayed with Aunt Ann in Hyannis Port for a couple weeks. One evening, Helen Garrahan took me to the Kennedy Compound to play capture-the-flag with a group of Kennedys, Shrivers, Smiths, Lawfords and local kids. After the game, we watched “Smokey and the Bandit” in the movie theater in the “big house,” Grandma Rose’s place. The kids were going wild, throwing popcorn and making a lot of noise, so Ted popped his head in and issued a standard Kennedy threat, “Pipe down you hooligans, or I’ll make you rake the beach!” When Patrick Kennedy (who lives several blocks from Bing and me on “the Hill”) eulogized his dad by talking about the sailing races they had to train relentlessly for because the competition was “smarter,” he was talking about my cousins Billy and Tommy. They were the top teenage racing team in Hyannis Port one summer.

    Hope to see you soon! -Ellen

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