|By Bob Weaver|
It would be difficult to ignore them, the Kennedys, like them or not, much like the Bush family.
Considering that I am not a "special person,"
they have crossed my path on several occasions, with little effort on
They have been out there in this
world of ours, doing things.
It was Christmas eve in 1985 that I
took my son Jon, who was five, to the firehouse at
Albright, Preston County, a town virtually destroyed by the thousand year flood in the
Cheat River valley, washing away homes and
even changing the course of the ancient river.
The Kennedy family had
come to the tiny village to offer solace.
month before we stood on the hill near our home in Kingwood and
watched houses being lifted from their
foundations to float over the Albright bridge. It was a devastating
event for many people in WV, lives lost, homes
and communities destroyed.
I tried to help my son understand about
the Kennedy folks on that holiday eve. I told
him about the assassination of JFK, and that we would be meeting Sen.
Ted Kennedy, his brother, on this this dismal and
cold evening. And several of Kennedy kids would be there too, Robert
Kennedy, Jr. and Patrick Kennedy, among
I talked with Jon about their politics, tragedies and star-crossed lives. He was not
I had my newly acquired video
camera (back then they cost $1,300), wanting to get Jon on tape with the famous bunch. A crowd of
at least 200 crowded into the tiny building
with TV and news reporters.
Sen. Kennedy said, "We have come this
Christmas eve, our family, to express our
sorrow for the suffering of the people of Preston County and WV, their
losses and future struggles to come back
from this disaster."
I know that Ted Kennedy was a political
animal, and we could spend time questioning his
But he came. They came. And it was Christmas Eve.
talks, Senator Kennedy walked around and mixed with the people, along with the
boys and other members of their extended
I worked my way closer with my son, video camera in hand,
rolling tape. Jon stood in front of the senator,
who bent down to ask of him, "What can I do for you, young man?"
After which Jon replied, "Do you have 50
cents for a Coke.?" He didn't.
It was several years later, 1994,
that Dianne, Jon and I went to Washington. He was
14 now, and he wanted to go to Arlington National Cemetery and the
Kennedy graves. When we arrived, the
security people had roped off the area and we were told that the
Kennedy family was arriving to place flowers on
Robert Kennedy's grave. It was his birthday. The clan came, about
twenty five, and placed the flowers and said
Even then, Ted Kennedy walked toward us behind the rope to say hello and
shake hands, apologizing for holding up our grave site visit,
Before 1990, while
in Boston for a meeting, a bronze statue of JFK was dedicated by his
wife, Jackie. Tens of thousands turned out, and I
watched from a window several blocks away.
In more recent years, I have rubbed elbows and conversed with Robert Kennedy, Jr., whose tireless efforts have been to improve the quality of life in a world that is environmentally assaulted. He's the real deal.
It was in 1960 the Kennedys came
to WV for the presidential primary, a defining
moment in JFK's political career.
John Kennedy walked the streets of most towns in the Mountain State, campaigning. In
Spencer, during a pouring rain, he bought a hat at Spencer Department Store and shook hands.
I was there, although I did not shake hands, but I remember looking into his charismatic face, to be remembered the day he was shot down in 1963.
point is simply this: The Kennedys were people with
passion, drive and defects, but never a time have I encountered them
did they not speak for justice, the working class, the poor, the neglected and the hurt.
That surely must mean something during a most troubling time in Washington.