Sargent Shriver died this past week. As of the first day of congress this year, there was no Kennedy serving in the House or the Senate.
And, since this past week January 20--our inauguration date--there was focus on the speech John F. Kennedy made when he was sworn in, when he said "Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather, ask what you can do for your country."
I remember, as a third grader, sitting on the floor of Ms. Ogren's (and Miss Mickleson's, for we did this one together) room, next to Ronnie Cohn, my then best friend, and we watched. I remember the First Family album that poked fun of that goofy bunch of Kennedy's, and kept me amused for hours (I still can recite some of the routines). And, Jackie being pregnant, and being at the tennis club, for a tennis match when the Kennedy's third child, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, died.
I have an entire novel and a short story routed around JFK's assassination, and vividly remember loving Bobby Kennedy as a candidate in 1968, falling asleep when it was assumed that Kennedy had won the California primary that year, only to wake up a couple of hours later to television noise. That was unusual, so I left my room and my parents were glued to the tube, watching the post-Sirhan Sirhan holocaust.
I remember Jackie marrying Aristotle Onassis--much to the dismay of the American housewife--and in particular Ted driving off the bridge at Chappaquiddick, spelling the end of days for Mary Jo Kopechne. As a result Brian De Palma made a terrific movie, Blow Out, starring John Travolta, in a scenario that played the incident close to the vest. But, I also remember the fabulous National Lampoon ad for VW that read, "If Ted Kennedy drove a Volkswagen, he would be president today."
I remember Jackie dying, and Caroline growing up, and John Jr. regularly being on the cover of People magazine as America's most eligible bachelor. And, then marrying, and then dying in a plane crash right around the time the Athletics traded Mark McGwire to the Cardinals.
We still see the great environmentalist, Robert Kennedy, Jr. in the news.
Sargent Shriver, and his wife Eunice--sister to John, Bobby, and Ted--were instrumental in the founding of both the Peace Corps, and the Special Olympics, two institutions. In fact my friend Mark Berenberg's daughter Annie, is at present in Mozambique, serving in the Peace Corps as I write (in fact Annie writes a great blog that you might check out at Annie B takes on Mozambique).
And, Annie might not be there now, were it not for Shriver and his vision.
It sort of seems like the end of an era, it does.