Archive | July, 2008

RFK Heirs Don’t Want Murder Case Reopened

30 Jul

Robert F. Kennedy

Robert F. Kennedy

 

RFK JR. SAYS “NO CONSPIRACY” IN FATHER’S MURDER, BUT INVESTIGATORS, VICTIMS, EXPERTS DISAGREE

The 40th anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination has spurred a movement to reopen the murder case. But, so far, his heirs are reluctant to join the crusade.

As much as he suspects that his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, may have been the victim of a conspiracy, Bobby Kennedy Jr. tells us, “I’ve never seen particularly compelling evidence [that my father was].”

Several respected journalists and forensic scientists are hoping RFK’s clan will consider new findings suggesting convicted killer Sirhan Sirhan, now 64, did not act alone.

Shane O’Sullivan, author of the just-published “Who Killed Bobby?”, notes that the “autopsy concluded all three shots were fired at an upward angle from an inch behind Kennedy, but witnesses placed the muzzle of Sirhan’s gun a foot and a half to five feet in front of the senator.”

An analysis of a recently discovered audio recording of the chaos in that kitchen at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles found that 13 shots were fired — eight from Sirhan’s spot in front of Kennedy, five from behind. Three shots from behind hit Kennedy; their audio fingerprints match those of the .22 revolver owned by Eugene Cesar, a security guard who was standing behind Kennedy. Cesar has denied shooting the New York senator.

Paul Schrade, RFK’s labor adviser on the campaign, also took a bullet in the head that day. Schrade has long said the LAPD bungled the investigation. “What’s more important now,” he tells us, “is that the LAPD couldn’t have done the testing we have because the technology didn’t exist then.”

“I’m convinced we can make the case,” adds Schrade, who is putting together a legal team to challenge the verdict.

Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley, didn’t know if prosecutors were aware of recent findings, but told us: “We believe Sirhan’s conviction is valid and supported by the evidence presented to a jury at trial.”

Among those calling for a new probe before remaining witnesses die is David Talbot, whose book, “Brothers,” reveals how RFK privately tried to unravel the mysteries behind JFK’s murder.”

“I do hope that this generation [of Kennedys] will finally do something to open up the case again,” says Talbot.

Several members of the clan we contacted declined to comment. “They like to focus on RFK’s legacy,” says a family friend. “The media fascination with this subject pains them.”

Schrade, who has stayed in touch with the family, says, “I understand how difficult it is for them. We don’t talk about the conspiracy. That doesn’t mean that they won’t at some point.”

 

Copyright 2008, the New York Daily News.

Ted Kennedy Returns to Senate; Gets Standing Ovation

9 Jul

Teddy\'s Back!

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., followed by Caroline Kennedy, enters the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, July 9, 2008, for the first time since his brain surgery. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

KENNEDY RETURNS TO THE SENATE; GETS STANDING OVATION

Senator Edward Kennedy got a standing ovation from his colleagues as he returned to the US Senate Wednesday for the first time since being diagnosed with brain cancer.

The Democratic icon showed up for a vote on the Medicare state health program for seniors during a break from radiation and chemotherapy treatment, after undergoing surgery on a brain tumor last month.

He walked slowly from a car into the US Capitol building, then was greeted with a standing ovation from Republican and Democratic senators standing in the well of the Senate as he cast his vote.

“Aye,” the 76-year-old Kennedy said in a loud voice, smiling broadly and making a thumbs-up gesture as he registered his vote.

Spectators in the galleries that overhang the chamber burst into cheers — a violation of decorum that drew no complaints.

Kennedy made his way into the Senate on his own power, appearing little the worse for his illness. A patch of scalp was clearly visible through his familiar white hair, although it was not clear whether that was a result of surgery he underwent or the effects of chemotherapy or radiation that are part of his treatment.

He walked into chamber accompanied by Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, his party’s presidential nominee-in-waiting, as well as fellow Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and Kennedy’s son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island.

KEEPING A PROMISE

“I return to the Senate today to keep a promise to our senior citizens and that’s to protect Medicare,” Kennedy, the patriach of the Kennedy political dynasty, said in a written statement.

“Win, lose or draw, I wanted to be here. I wasn’t going to take the chance that my vote could make the difference.”

Seated in the Senate gallery were Kennedy’s wife, Vicki, and Caroline, his niece. As the tourists and senators alike rose in a standing ovation, Vicki Kennedy wiped away tears.

So did many of Kennedy’s colleagues and several Senate clerks.

Kennedy’s dramatic return gave Democrats the impetus they needed to free Medicare legislation from gridlock. It had received 59 votes on an earlier test, one short of the 60 needed to advance. Kennedy made 60, and when Republicans saw the outcome was sealed, several of them joined Democrats to pad the margin.

Obviously, Teddy’s vote did make the difference today. After taking care of Senate business, Kennedy flew back to Boston for his scheduled weekly cancer treatment.

Doctors at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina said last month that Kennedy’s brain surgery had been successful and was a first step in a treatment plan.

Kennedy was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on May 17 after suffering a seizure at his family’s compound in Hyannis Port on Cape Cod.

Following results from a biopsy, doctors diagnosed Kennedy with a malignant glioma in the left parietal lobe, an area of the brain which controls speech, among other functions.

THE PROGNOSIS

Doctors have not publicly offered a prognosis for Kennedy. But the US National Cancer Institute has said the outlook for such a diagnosis is poor, with average life expectancy depending on the stage of the tumor, from a few months to up to five years.

About 13,000 Americans die annually from malignant tumors in the brain or spinal cord, comprising 2.2 percent of all cancer-linked deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. Survival has improved over the past decade due in part to new drugs.

The tumor kills 50 percent of patients during the first year after diagnosis and few live beyond three years. Without treatment the tumor grows back between two to three months after being surgically removed.

The brain tumor diagnosis sent shockwaves through the US Congress, where Kennedy has been a dominant figure for nearly half a century and is a champion of causes such as health care, education, workers rights and immigration reform.

Kennedy’s eighth six-year term in the Senate expires in 2012. The Senator’s nephew, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., has been mentioned in recent weeks as one family member who might eventually pick up the liberal lion’s torch in the U.S. Senate.

 

AFP and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kennedy’s Voice Draws Attention to Rare Disorder

7 Jul

rfk jr 

Kennedy’s Voice Draws Attention to Rare Disorder

RFK Jr.’s Public Speeches Piqued Curiousity about His Vocal Cords

By LAUREN COX
ABC News Medical Unit

When Robert Kennedy Jr. appeared on “Larry King Live” Monday, he hoped to gain attention for energy conservation. But as the public listened to his stilted, strained voice, he also drew attention to another cause.

Following the broadcast, Internet forum questions about his health multiplied. Was it a cold, or was it something serious like lung cancer? What made him sound as if he was choking up?

In truth, Kennedy has a condition called spasmodic dysphonia, a specific form of an involuntary movement disorder called dystonia that affects only the voice box.

Requests for comment and calls to Kennedy’s press representative at his Pace Environmental Clinic office were not returned.

Although the condition is by no means life-threatening, it is life-changing for the few who have it. Spasmodic dysphonia experts estimate the condition affects only .02 percent of the population. It often strikes in midlife between ages 20 and 50, and it appears in women twice as often as in men.

Patients say losing your voice hits people in their primary, intimate connection to the outside world and affects nearly every aspect of their lives.

For the few doctors who study the rare disorder, it is an uphill battle to get it diagnosed, understand its causes and train doctors across America to treat it.

You can hear audio of people with adductor spasmodic dysphonia and the less-common abductor spasmodic dysphonia at the National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association Web site

 

Hear It Coming

Lorraine Rappaport started noticing her voice changing back in the early 1980s when she was working as a school counselor in California.

“It came on gradually; it isn’t like anything that happens overnight,” said Rappaport. “My voice got very hoarse, and there were certain letters of the alphabet at the beginning of words that I could not say easily.”

Slowly, her condition started to interfere with her job and her communication with others.

“There were times where I had to stop and think, because I wanted to avoid a word because I couldn’t say it clearly.”

Rappaport started avoiding words that began with “h,” “ch,” “k” or “c” — a difficult task in English. She had never heard of spasmodic dysphonia at the time, and physicians kept telling her the problem was psychological, especially since she was getting a divorce.

“Good heavens, I went to a total of 22 different people,” Rappaport said. “I was told to go to a psychiatrist, and my husband at the time was a psychiatrist — he recognized immediately this was not a psychological condition”

Although emotional stress didn’t cause the problem, Rappaport quickly discovered that the problem caused emotional stress. Everywhere she goes her breathy, stilted voice draws attention. She now holds support groups for people with general dystonia — some of whom can’t control their vocal cords and have uncontrolled spasms in their head, neck, eyes, or leg spasms.

“It’s really, really bad when you first deal with it,” Rappaport said. “If you stop and think about it you realize your personality, your life is a result of what you can say, of what you can speak.”

Rappaport eventually left her job because of the spasmodic dysphonia. Once she started the support group she realized social isolation was a common problem.

“Speaking with them, we all did the same thing; we just let go of any social life at all because you couldn’t talk,” she said.

Rappaport gets worried when she thinks others are going undiagnosed as well.

“I have heard certain people both on television and in my social life that I guessed had a problem and probably didn’t know,” she said.

“I’ve thought of dropping [Kennedy] a note,” said Rappaport, who happens to live 20 minutes away from the Kennedy home on Cape Cod.

But Kennedy does know about spasmodic dysphonia. According to a spokesman for the NSDA, he’s an honorary board member.

 

Telling Others

“It’s a very rare disorder, and there is really very little known about it — especially back in the ’80s and ’90s,” said Dr. Phillip Song, a laryngologist at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston. “The NSDA has gotten well organized, so you don’t see people go undiagnosed for years as much.”

People with spasmodic dysphonia in the media, such as Kennedy or National Public Radio talk show host Diane Rhem, have helped bring spasmodic dysphonia to national attention. Kennedy and Rhem both serve as honorary board members of NSDA, and Rhem wrote about her experience in her 2002 book, “Finding My Voice.”

Still, Song and other experts warn there are only a few hotbeds of treatment in Boston, New York, Chicago and California. Everywhere in between, especially outside of metropolitan areas, people with spasmodic dysphonia may be suffering and unaware, just like Rappaport first was.

 

Treatment Past and Present

By the early 1990s, Rappaport found treatment for her condition in a National Institutes of Health clinical trial using Botox injections. The NIH flew her to Maryland from California to receive the low-dose injections, and she started to see an improvement.

Only years before, in 1986, Dr. Andrew Blitzer in New York City and others discovered Botox as a nonsurgical treatment for spasmodic dysphonia. Previously, doctors tried to crush or cut the nerve leading to the vocal folds and could only provide a few years of relief before the symptoms returned.

“If you do anything surgical, the dystonia tries to win. It tries to figure out a way around its obstruction,” said Dr. Robert Bastian, spokesman for the NSDA and a Chicago-based specialist in treating spasmodic dysphonia.

Song and Bastian say doctors don’t know what exactly causes spasmodic dysphonia, but they do know that treating the nerves at the vocal cords can only help, not cure the problem.

The best guess spasmodic dysphonia experts have for now is that root of the neurological disorder lies in the basal ganglia. The basal ganglia is often called the “processing area” of the brain and it sits between the cortex — the “upper management” part of the brain as Song calls it — and the brain stem, or the “foot soldier” of the brain.

However, the most advanced research is still focused on finding physical evidence of changes in the brain, and possibly a genetic cause behind the disorder. For now, most spasmodic dysphonia patients work with the cycle of low-dose Botox treatments three times a year that leave their voices first as breathy, then normal then stilted again.

Rappaport falls among the one in 10 people with spasmodic dysphonia who suffer from the from abductor form, which is more difficult to treat with Botox than adductor dysphonia. Instead of sounding strained and stilted, she sounds breathy and weak.

Rappaport decided to stop Botox treatments for fear of building immunity — although most doctors say the low dose in spasmodic dysphonia treatments is unlikely to cause this.

“It’s not good, it’s not perfect, but I can make myself understood and that’s what matters,” Rappaport said. “But I do want to help people understand this — you become less credible because people don’t know what’s wrong with you.”

 

 

JFK’s Independence Day Speech, 1946

4 Jul

LONG LIVE THE REPUBLIC

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. It was the price yesterday. It is the price today, and it will ever be the price.”

 

– John F. Kennedy

This Independence Day, we’d like to take you back in time to an America that some of you might be old enough to remember. Even if you’re not yet a senior citizen, upon reading this you’ll surely wish we had this kind of country – and these kinds of leaders – again today.

The time: July 4, 1946. The place: Boston’s Faneuil Hall. The man: young John Fitzgerald Kennedy, barely 29 years old and already the frontrunner in a pitched battle for his first Congressional seat in the 11th District. The occasion: the annual Boston Independence Day oration on the one hundred and seventieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of these United States.

Young JFK campaigns for Congress, 1946

A youthful but visibly ill John Kennedy campaigns for Congress, 1946

In 1946, Americans were observing the first peacetime Fourth of July in five years. Kennedy, himself a battered veteran of the war, seemed a perfect emerging leader of this young generation of fighting Americans. He understood what they faced; what our society and indeed our world would have to face as we moved from world war to cold war.

Of course, Kennedy’s time was yet to come. At this point, no one (most likely including the candidate himself) could have envisioned him as president. In the summer of 1946, John Kennedy was just a sickly, skinny rich kid, whip-smart and world-wise, but hardly a seasoned leader in Boston political circles. Had it not been for the power and position of his father Joseph P. Kennedy and the influence of his grandfather “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald (Boston’s beloved former mayor), young Jack Kennedy might have been laughed right out of the race – or run out of town as a carpetbagger. (JFK hadn’t actually lived in Boston since he was nine; having moved with his family to New York in 1927. He listed a Boston hotel as his address.)

Of course, many of the oldtime Boston Irish politicos predicted he would be trounced in the election. But “that Kennedy kid” surprised `em all in November, winning a seat in the House of Representatives he would keep for six more years. Then he decided to run for U.S. Senate, and of course all the wise old men said he’d never unseat Henry Cabot Lodge, who’d been in that seat since 1932. Although the margin of victory was narrow (3%), Kennedy did win that Senate seat, leaving a befuddled Lodge to mutter, “I felt rather like a man who has just been hit by a truck” on election day.

After eight years in the Senate, JFK set his sights on the White House in 1960. And of course, everybody said he could never beat Richard Nixon, the sitting Vice President. And once again, through the narrowest margin of victory the country had ever seen, Kennedy did just that, becoming the youngest president ever elected to the presidency.

Now that’s what I call the old American “can do” spirit.  Here in this land of opportunity, we can make anything of ourselves. An Irish Catholic kid from Boston can grow up not only to be a Congressman or a Senator, but even President of the United States. And not just the president, but a great president.

To think that the journey only took 14 short years is a marvel, and a testament to Kennedy’s drive and vision. A journey which started in Brookline, Massachusetts, went to Washington, all around the world, and which would eventually take us to the moon. And that amazing journey shifted into high gear on this day exactly 62 years ago.

On that sweltering 4th of July, Kennedy gave the finest speech of his young life, an oration which can still stir the heart of any American – or anybody who just loves the American Republic and all it stands for, wherever they may live.

And so we now bring you JFK’s 1946 Independence Day address in hopes that it will remind all of us of our heritage and our responsibilities; our hopes and our ambitions; our collective American spirit which, once resolved to a cause, can take us anywhere we want to go – beyond old ways of thinking – out of our own backyards and into a New Frontier…even beyond the stars and planets into the deepest reaches of space. That spirit, my friends, is the essence of our American character.

Young JFK with Doberman

If someone had told you in 1946 that this fresh-faced kid would one day be President of the United States, would you have believed it?

SOME ELEMENTS OF THE AMERICAN CHARACTER

By John F. Kennedy, as delivered in Boston on July 4, 1946.

Mr. Mayor; Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

     We stand today in the shadow of history.

     We gather here in the very Cradle of Liberty.

     It is an honor and a pleasure to be the speaker of the day–an honor because of the long and distinguished list of noted orators who have preceded me on this platform, a pleasure because one of that honored list who stood here fifty years ago, and who is with us here today, is my grandfather.

     It has been the custom for the speaker of the day to link his thoughts across the years to certain classic ideals of the early American tradition. I shall do the same. I propose today to discuss certain elements of the American character which have made this nation great. It is well for us to recall them today, for this is a day of recollection and a day of hope.

     A nation’s character, like that of an individual, is elusive. It is produced partly by things we have done and partly by what has been done to us. It is the result of physical factors, intellectual factors, spiritual factors.

     It is well for us to consider our American character, for in peace, as in war, we will survive or fail according to its measure.

     RELIGIOUS ELEMENT

     Our deep religious sense is the first element of the American character which I would discuss this morning.

     The informing spirit of the American character has always been a deep religious sense.

     Throughout the years, down to the present, a devotion to fundamental religious principles has characterized American thought and action.

     Our government was founded on the essential religious idea of integrity of the individual. It was this religious sense which inspired the authors of the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.”    

Our earliest legislation was inspired by this deep religious sense:         

“Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion.”    

Our first leader, Washington, was inspired by this deep religious sense:        

“Of all of the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”    

Lincoln was inspired by this deep religious sense:         

“That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”    

Our late, lamented President (FDR) was inspired by this deep religious sense:         

“We shall win this war, and in victory we shall seek not vengeance, but the establishment of an international order in which the spirit of Christ shall rule the hearts of men and nations.”    

Thus we see that this nation has ever been inspired by essential religious ideas. The doctrine of slavery which challenged these ideas within our own country was destroyed.

     Recently, the philosophy of racism, which threatened to overwhelm them by attacks from abroad, was also met and destroyed.

     Today these basic religious ideas are challenged by atheism and materialism: at home in the cynical philosophy of many of our intellectuals, abroad in the doctrine of collectivism, which sets up the twin pillars of atheism and materialism as the official philosophical establishment of the State.

     Inspired by a deeply religious sense, this country, which has ever been devoted to the dignity of man, which has ever fostered the growth of the human spirit, has always met and hurled back the challenge of those deathly philosophies of hate and despair. We have defeated them in the past; we will always defeat them.

     How well, then, has DeTocqueville said: “You may talk of the people and their majesty, but where there is no respect for God can there be much for man? You may talk of the supremacy of the ballot, respect for order, denounce riot, secession–unless religion is the first link, all is vain.”

     IDEALISTIC ELEMENT

     Another element in the American character that I would bring to your attention this morning is the idealism of our native people–stemming from the strong religious beliefs of the first colonists, developed as they worked the land.

     This idealism, this fixed regard for principle, has been an element of the American character from the birth of this nation to the present day.

     In recent years, the existence of this element in the American character has been challenged by those who seek to give an economic interpretation to American history. They seek to destroy our faith in our past so that they may guide our future. These cynics are wrong, for, while there may be some truth in their interpretation, it does remain a fact, and a most important one, that the motivating force of the American people has been their belief that they have always stood at the barricades by the side of God.

     In Revolutionary times, the cry “No taxation without representation” was not an economic complaint. Rather, it was directly traceable to the eminently fair and just principle that no sovereign power has the right to govern without the consent of the governed. Anything short of that was tyranny. It was against this tyranny that the colonists “fired the shot heard ’round the world.”

     This belief in principle was expressed most impressively by George Washington at the Constitutional Convention in 1783. “It is probable that no plan we propose will be adopted. Perhaps another dreadful conflict is to be sustained.  If, to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterwards defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair, the event is in the hands of God.”

     This idealism, this conviction that our eyes had seen the glory of the Lord -that right was right and wrong was wrong-finally led to the ultimate clash at Bull Run and the long red years of the war between the States.

     Again, the cynics may apply the economic interpretation to this conflict: the industrial North against the agricultural South; the struggle of the two economies. Say what they will, it is an undeniable fact that the Northern Army of Virginia and the Army of the Potomac were inspired by devotion to principle: on the one hand, the right of secession; on the other, the belief that the “Union must be preserved.”

     In 1917, this element of the American character was stimulated by the slogans “War to End War” and “A War to Save Democracy,” and again the American people had as their leader a man, Woodrow Wilson, whose idealism was the traditional idealism of America. To such a degree was this true that he was able to say, “Some people call me an idealist. Well, that is the way I know I am an American. America is the only idealistic nation in the world.”

     It is perhaps true that the American intervention in 1917 might have been more effective if the case for American intervention had been represented on less moralistic terms. As it was, the American people eventually came to look upon themselves as giving food and guns to a general cause in which all other people had material ends and in which they alone had moral ends.

     The idealism with which we had entered the battle made the subsequent disillusionment all the more bitter and revealed a dangerous facet to this element of the American character, for this bitterness, a direct result of our inflated hopes, brought a radical change in our foreign policy and a resulting withdrawal from Europe. We failed to make the adjustment between what we had hoped to win and what we actually could win. Our idealism was too strong. We would not compromise.

     And thus we brought to our shoulders much of the burden of the responsibility for World War II–a burden which we would not then acknowledge but for which we have paid full price in recent years on distant shores, on faraway fields and valleys and hills, on pieces of foreign soil which will be forever ours.

     It was perhaps because of this failure that the second world war never did become a crusade as did the first.

     Our idealism had become tarnished, but extraordinary efforts were made to evoke it, and it is indubitably true that the great majority of Americans had strong convictions as to which side spoke for the right before our entry into the war.

     It is now in the postwar world that this idealism–this devotion to principle–this belief in the natural law–this deep religious conviction that this is truly God’s country and we are truly God’s people–will meet its greatest trial.

     Our American idealism finds itself faced by the old-world doctrine of power politics. It is meeting with successive rebuffs, and all this may result in a new and even more bitter disillusionment, in another ignominious retreat from our world destiny.

     But, if we remain faithful to the American tradition, our idealism will be a steadfast thing, a constant flame, a torch held aloft for the guidance of other nations.

     It will take great faith.

     Our idealism, the second element of the American character, is being severely tested. Now, only time will tell whether this element of the American character will be true to its historic tradition.

     PATRIOTIC ELEMENT

     The third element of the American character that I would bring to your attention this morning is the great patriotic instinct of our people.

     From our pioneer days, perhaps because we were a people who developed from a beachhead on a tremendous continent, this American patriotism has always had as its core a strange and almost mystical love of the land.

     Early in our history we acquired, as James Truslow Adams has pointed out, “a sense of unlimited energy face to face with unlimited resources.”

     Land, land, land, stretching with incredible richness across half a world. Its sheer vastness has made it a challenge to the American spirit. The endless land stretching to, the western sun caught the imagination of men who founded this nation and awakened the patriotic spirit that has become a characteristic of the American people.

     In the words of America’s poet, Walt Whitman, we note this deep sense of the land:          

“Land of the pastoral plains, the grass-field of the world, land of those sweet-air’d interminable plateaus!
Land of the herd, the garden, the healthy house of adobe!
Land where the northwest Columbia winds, and where the southwest Colorado winds!
Land of the eastern Chesapeake! Land of the Delaware!
Land of Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan! Land of the Old Thirteen! Massachusetts land! Land of Vermont and Connecticut!
Land of the ocean shores! Land of sierras and peaks!
Land of boatmen and sailors! Fishermen’s land!”    

This preoccupation with the land records itself in the catalogue of the colonists’ grievances against George III. It has always been reflected in the highest moments of our patriotism, for, throughout the years, in the early days here at home and in recent years abroad, Americans have been ever ready to defend this native land.

     From the birth of the nation to the present day, from the Heights of Dorchester to the broad meadows of Virginia, from Bunker Hill to the batteries of Saratoga, from Bergen’s Neck, where Wayne and Maylan’s troops achieved such martial wonders, to Yorktown, where Britain’s troops surrendered, Americans have heroically embraced the soldier’s alternative of victory or the grave. American patriotism was shown at the Halls of Montezuma. It was shown with Meade at Gettysburg, with Sheridan at Winchester, with Phil Carney at Fair Oaks, with Longstreet in the Wilderness, and it was shown by the flower of the Virginia Army when Pickett charged at Gettysburg. It was shown by Captain Rowan, who plunged into the jungles of Cuba and delivered the famous message to Garcia, symbol now of tenacity and determination. It was shown by the Fifth and Sixth Marines at Belleau Wood, by the Yankee Division at Verdun, by Captain Leahy, whose last order as he lay dying was “The command is forward.”  And in recent years it was shown by those who stood at Bataan with Wainwright, by those who fought at Wake Island with Devereaux, who flew in the air with Don Gentile. It was shown by those who jumped with Gavin, by those who stormed the bloody beaches at Salerno with Commando Kelly; it was shown by the First Division at Omaha Beach, by the Second Ranger Battalion as it crossed the Purple Heart Valley, by the 101st as it stood at Bastogne; it was shown at the Bulge, at the Rhine, and at victory.

     Wherever freedom has been in danger, Americans with a deep sense of patriotism have ever been willing to stand at Armageddon and strike a blow for liberty and the Lord.

     INDIVIDUALISTIC ELEMENT

     The American character has been not only religious, idealistic, and patriotic, but because of these it has been essentially individual.

     The right of the individual against the State has ever been one of our most cherished political principles.

     The American Constitution has set down for all men to see the essentially Christian and American principle that there are certain rights held by every man which no government and no majority, however powerful, can deny.

     Conceived in Grecian thought, strengthened by Christian morality, and stamped indelibly into American political philosophy, the right of the individual against the State is the keystone of our Constitution. Each man is free.

     He is free in thought.

     He is free in expression.

     He is free in worship.

     To us, who have been reared in the American tradition, these rights have become part of our very being. They have become so much a part of our being that most of us are prone to feel that they are rights universally recognized and universally exercised. But the sad fact is that this is not true. They were dearly won for us only a few short centuries ago and they were dearly preserved for us in the days just past. And there are large sections of the world today where these rights are denied as a matter of philosophy and as a matter of government.

     We cannot assume that the struggle is ended. It is never-ending.

     Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. It was the price yesterday. It is the price today, and it will ever be the price.

     The characteristics of the American people have ever been a deep sense of religion, a deep sense of idealism, a deep sense of patriotism, and a deep sense of individualism.

     Let us not blink the fact that the days which lie ahead of us are bitter ones.

     May God grant that, at some distant date, on this day, and on this platform, the orator may be able to say that these are still the great qualities of the American character and that they have prevailed.

JFK’s closing words should strike a deep chord in all of us now. 62 years to the day since he delivered this address, his dream has still not yet been fully realized. But we too still hold on to the hope that God may grant on some distant day, on that same platform in Boston, the orator may be able to stand up and say that Americans have not fogotten how to turn our brightest dreams into beautiful realities. And it won’t be just pretty campaign rhetoric; it will be the truth.

We also hope that future orator’s name will be Kennedy. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., to be more precise. Sure, we dream big, but why dream small? America didn’t get where we are today by taking baby steps.

Remember always to dream, America. And dream BIG. If we ever cease to chase big dreams and pursue higher ideals, we won’t stay a great nation for long.

And if some evil usurper should come along and try to turn our collective dream into a nightmare, then we should remember well our ancestors who fought a bloody revolution to free us from the reign of tyrants once before — and that we can do it again.

The answer to 1984 is 1776.

Viva Liberty!

Long Live The Republic!

 

Copyright RFKin2008. Kennedy speech text courtesy of the JFK Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.