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August 26, 2009

Commentary: Kennedy family's remarkable story

Posted: 01:20 PM ET

Editor's note: Ted Sorensen was special counsel and adviser to President John F. Kennedy.  He will be on Larry King Live tonight, 9pm ET.

Ted Sorensen says the Kennedys are not American royalty, but have dedicated themselves to service.

Ted-Kennedy-4NEW YORK (CNN) - With the death of John F. Kennedy's brother, Senator Edward M Kennedy, and their sister, Eunice Shriver, the founder of the Special Olympics for the developmentally challenged, there has been a wealth of news stories - obituaries and otherwise - about the recurring tragedies endured by what some call America's "royal family."

All of these comments are well intended but off the mark.

The Kennedys have been a remarkable family since its founding roughly a century ago by Joseph P. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. But, its members have never asked for pity or privilege. Their history has emphasized more success than tragedy. Their love of family and country stood out during some of the most cynical and selfish periods in recent American history.

Like any large family, particularly one which deservedly remained in the public eye for many decades, a large number of afflictions and setbacks, also in the public eye, was unavoidable.

Nevertheless, the members of that family have never considered themselves "royal" or entitled to special privileges. We have no royalty in America, but ever since the Adams family sent several generations to public service in the earliest days of our nationhood, other families have demonstrated similar interests and commitments to public service.

The Kennedys were taught as children and genuinely believed that American citizenship was a special privilege and honor, in return for which every citizen had an obligation to serve and help the country. Even the youngest generation of Kennedys today acts not out of a sense of entitlement but a sense of commitment.

From the beginning, those members of the family who held or sought public office had the courage to take public positions on controversial issues, not always approved by the leaders of their party, church or respective constituencies. Nevertheless, they stood up and spoke out for what they believed was right, regardless of political and personal consequences. In short, they have had a proud tradition of becoming - not merely writing about - profiles in courage.

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Filed under: Larry King Live • Ted Kennedy


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harold   August 26th, 2009 1:48 pm ET

has the Bush family come forward to make any comments, praises ?..


Dodie - California   August 26th, 2009 1:51 pm ET

With the loss of an Icon (Senator Edward Kennedy) is a real tragedy! His altruistic activities with health care reform, among so many others, desiring fairness for all sinks deeply to the core of Humanity. Even when he was dieing, he wanted a special election to ensure the continued fight for healthcare and the needs of the Americans. I am deeply saddened to learn of his death! He was an inspiration to us all. Rest in Peace!


Gale Keenan   August 26th, 2009 2:12 pm ET

Larry, I am saddened by Senstor Kennedy's death and admired him greatly. However I wonder why we do not hear of Joan Kennedy. I know she has been in trouble with her addictions (as did Senator Kennedy and one of his sons). I don't think she was able to come to terms with it but nevertheless she is the mother of his children and stood by him through many elections and troubles (Chapaquiddik). I beleve she should be awarded some credit for her accomplishments.


Vallary   August 26th, 2009 3:10 pm ET

I think this family was and still is a class act. That are about family and what it means. I know they had their faults, but what family doesn't. I am to young to remeber all deaths. I am 44 now but, I do know that Ted was always the rock. I hope that the grand kids will carry on in poltics and get the young kennedy spirit back in the white house.


Mary Schwass   August 26th, 2009 3:12 pm ET

Larry, I'm sad today about Sen Kennedy. I loved him. In 1976, When my brother Mike was first injured and paralyzed from the neck down at the age of 16 , we heard that a Russian doctor had some procedures to help the disabled walk again. That was back in the 70s...no internet, no computers. ( I think Russia may have been communistic at the time, I can't remember. ) I tried so hard to track him down, but had no luck. My mom suggested Ted Kennedy's office since they always help "the people." They not only found him, but helped us try to get over there and get treatment. We sent Mike's films and doctor reports to the Russian doctor (thru Ted Kennedy's office), but the doctor said Mike would not be a good candidate. Although we were disappointed, at least we were given the opportunity to investigate the possibilities thanks to Mr. Kennedy's staff. So he has a special place in my heart.


Trudy   August 26th, 2009 4:53 pm ET

I was a very young girl during the Kennedy era and remembered distinctly when John F. Kennedy was president, nation and the economy were fine, life was alot simpler than what it is today, $5 brought in two bagfuls of groceries at our house. . I remembered we were glued to the tv set when President Kennedy was assassinated and watched the black horse clopping down the street and listening to the drumbeats as the caisson went through Washington DC streets with world leaders and Jackie Kennedy walking behind the flag draped coffin on the caisson. Few years later, I remembered Robert Kennedy was assassinated in the summer of '68 and his casket was on that train. Then, the burial at Arlington Cemetery. Now, Edward Kennedy has passed on due to losing his battle to brain cancer . Sadly, no amount of money could have saved him from this very wicked disease. . Yes, the Kennedy men during the Kennedy Era which I grew up in are gone but their legacy will live on.


carol kesling   August 26th, 2009 9:47 pm ET

trully a sad day for america..... he will be missed. thoughts and prayers are with the family......... god bless..


HAUNANI MICHELE RILEY   August 26th, 2009 10:37 pm ET

I GIVE SENATOR EDWARD M.KENNEDY PRAISES FOR BEING A FAMILY MAN AND A MAN FOR HIS COURAGE FOR FIGHTING WHAT HE BELEIVE IN THAT ALL PEOPLE WERE EQUAL. I PRAISE HIM FOR COMING FROM A BIG FAMILY AND BEING THERE FOR HIS BROTHERS CHILDREN. FOR ALL HIS FAULTS, MISTAKES HE STILL LEARN FROM IT AND MOVED FORWARD WITHOUT LOOKING BACK HE CAME TO TERMS WITH IT. TO ME HE WILL ALWAYS BE A GOOD SENATOR AND HE WOULD HAVE BECOME A GOOD PRESIDENT. HE WILL BE MISSED FOREVER, MAY HIS LEGACY LIVE ON IN WASHINGTON AN ALL OVER THE WORLD. WE LOVE YOU SENATOR EDWARD M.(TED) KENNEDY MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS, REST IN PEACE.


Miley   August 29th, 2009 10:17 pm ET

Senator Ted Kennedy will be missed. He put to face many tragedies in his life but he stood strong for each one. He is a true hero and a great idol for myself.


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