Friday, August 28, 2009

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

As a longtime aficionado of the Kennedy mystique (and I do mean long-time; I had my own copy of the Warren Report when I was nine), I was saddened to learn about the passing of Ted Kennedy this week. Of all the Kennedy brothers, he certainly accomplished the most, even if his legacy is a little bit tarnished by scandal and the looming shadow of two brothers who did something he couldn't compete with - dying young with potential.

My favorite accomplishment of Senator Kennedy's didn't take place on the legislative floor, but at a college where he'd be hard-pressed to find anybody who agreed with him on anything. Kennedy was a good friend of the Reverend Jerry Falwell despite their ideological differences, but when Falwell invited him to speak at Liberty Baptist College (now Liberty University), I don't think anybody really expected him to take him up on it, or if they did, they expected the hard-line liberal to come in fighting. But his speech, known as the "Truth and Tolerance in America" speech, was an eloquent, respectful meditation on the separation of church and state, as well as a call for national unity.

No matter your political ideals or affiliation, his message here is a great read. (And not without a little wry humor.) You can watch the video, see the audio, or read the full text at American Rhetoric.

(The image in this post is Senator Kennedy with my favorite ex-Prez, Jimmy Carter, in 1977. It's from the National Archives via the Carter Library.)

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