THANK YOU, President and Mrs. Clinton and Chelsea, for being here today.
You’ve shown extraordinary kindness throughout the course of this week.
Once, when they asked John what he would
do if he went into politics and was elected president, he said: “I guess
the first thing is call up Uncle Teddy and gloat.” I loved that. It was
so like his father.
From the first day of his life, John
seemed to belong not only to our family, but to the American family. The
whole world knew his name before he did.
A famous photograph showed John racing
across the lawn as his father landed in the White House helicopter and
swept up John in his arms. When my brother saw that photo, he exclaimed,
“Every mother in the United States is saying, ‘Isn’t it wonderful to see
that love between a son and his father, the way that John races to be with
his father.’ Little do they know — that son would have raced right by his
father to get to that helicopter.”
‘SO MUCH MORE’
But John was so much more than those
long-ago images emblazoned in our minds. He was a boy who grew into a man
with a zest for life and a love of adventure. He was a pied piper who brought
us all along. He was blessed with a father and mother who never thought
anything mattered more than their children.
When they left the White House, Jackie’s
soft and gentle voice and unbreakable strength of spirit guided him surely
and securely to the future. He had a legacy, and he learned to treasure
it. He was part of a legend, and he learned to live with it. Above all,
Jackie gave him a place to be himself, to grow up, to laugh and cry, to
dream and strive on his own.
John learned that lesson well. He had
amazing grace. He accepted who he was, but he cared more about what he
could and should become. He saw things that could be lost in the glare
of the spotlight. And he could laugh at the absurdity of too much pomp
‘KING OF HIS
He loved to travel across this city
by subway, bicycle and roller blade. He lived as if he were unrecognizable
— although he was known by everyone he encountered. He always introduced
himself, rather than take anything for granted. He drove his car and flew
his own plane, which is how he wanted it. He was the king of his domain.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's role in eulogizing
JFK Jr. and his wife is a sad but familiar one. NBC's Gwen Ifill reports.
He thought politics should be an integral
part of our popular culture, and that popular culture should be an integral
part of politics. He transformed that belief into the creation of “George.”
John shaped and honed a fresh, often irreverent journal. His new political
magazine attracted a new generation, many of whom had never read about
John also brought to “George” a wit
that was quick and sure. The premier issue of “George” caused a stir with
a cover photograph of Cindy Crawford dressed as George Washington with
a bare belly button. The “Reliable Sources” in the Washington Post printed
a mock cover of “George” showing not Cindy Crawford, but me dressed as
George Washington, with my belly button exposed. I suggested to John that
perhaps I should have been the model for the first cover of his magazine.
Without missing a beat, John told me that he stood by his original editorial
John brought this same playful wit
to other aspects of his life. He campaigned for me during my 1994 election
and always caused a stir when he arrived in Massachusetts. Before one of
his trips to Boston, John told the campaign he was bringing along a companion,
but would need only one hotel room.
Interested, but discreet, a
senior campaign worker picked John up at the airport and prepared to handle
any media barrage that might accompany John’s arrival and his mystery companion.
John landed with the companion alright — an enormous German shepherd dog
named Sam he had just rescued from the pound.
He loved to talk about the
expression on the campaign worker’s face and the reaction of the clerk
at the Charles Hotel when John and Sam checked in.
wish to the new child
I think now not only of these wonderful
adventures, but of the kind of person John was. He was the son who quietly
gave extraordinary time and ideas to the Institute of Politics at Harvard
that bears his father’s name. He brought to the Institute his distinctive
insight that politics could have a broader appeal, that it was not just
about elections, but about the larger forces that shape our whole society.
John was also the son who was once protected
by his mother. He went on to become her pride — and then her protector
in her final days. He was the Kennedy who loved us all, but who especially
cherished his sister Caroline, celebrated her brilliance, and took strength
and joy from their lifelong mutual admiration society.
And for a thousand days, he was a husband
who adored the wife who became his perfect soul mate. John’s father taught
us all to reach for the moon and stars. John did that in all he did — and
he found his shining star when he married Carolyn Bessette.
How often our family will think of the
two of them, cuddling affectionately on a boat — surrounded by family,
aunts, uncles, Caroline and Ed and their children, Rose, Tatiana, and Jack
— Kennedy cousins — Radziwill cousins — Shriver cousins — Smith cousins
— Lawford cousins — as we sailed Nantucket Sound.
Then we would come home — and before
dinner, on the lawn where his father had played, John would lead a spirited
game of touch football — and his beautiful young wife, the new pride of
the Kennedys, would cheer for John’s team and delight her nieces and nephews
with her somersaults.
We loved Carolyn. She and her sister
Lauren were young extraordinary women of high accomplishment — and their
own limitless possibilities. We mourn their loss and honor their lives.
The Bessette and Freeman families will always be a part of ours.
John was a serious man who brightened
our lives with his smile and his grace. He was a son of privilege who founded
a program called “Reaching Up,” to train better care-givers for the mentally
disabled. He joined Wall Street executives on the Robin Hood Foundation
to help the city’s impoverished children. And he did it all so quietly,
without ever calling attention to himself.
John was one of Jackie’s two miracles.
He was still becoming the person he would be, and doing it by the beat
of his own drummer. He had only just begun. There was in him a great promise
of things to
The Irish Ambassador recited a poem
to John’s father and mother soon after John was born. I can hear it again
now, at this different and difficult moment:
A heart that can be beguiled
By a flower
That the wind lifts
As it passes.
If the storms break for him
may the trees
shake for him
Their blossoms down.
In the night that he is troubled
May a friend wake for him
So that his time be doubled,
And at the end of all loving and love,
May the Man above
Give him a crown.
We thank the millions who have rained
blossoms down on John’s memory. He and his bride have gone to be with his
mother and father, where there will never be an end to love. He was lost
on that troubled night — but we will always wake for him, so that his time,
which was not doubled, but cut in half, will live forever in our memory,
and in our beguiled and broken hearts.
We dared to think, in that other Irish
phrase, that this John Kennedy would live to comb gray hair, with his beloved
by his side. But like his father, he had every gift but length of years.
We who have loved him from the day he
was born, and watched the remarkable man he became, now bid him farewell.
God bless you, John and Carolyn. We love you, and we always will.