Ted Kennedy’s Eulogy for his brother Robert

Life is mysterious, I’ll never understand more than a little of it, but I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve received more love than I deserved; learned a little; and found joy in helping others. There are many things I should have loved but didn’t; many things I should have learned but didn’t; many people I should have helped but wasn’t able to.

All this makes me think of Ted Kennedy’s eulogy for his brother Robert. I have never heard it without being profoundly moved. The last lines are particularly beautiful. How I would love to be worthy of such words.

“My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; but be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.

Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.

As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:

Some men see things as they are and say why.
I dream things that never were and say why not.

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11 thoughts on “Ted Kennedy’s Eulogy for his brother Robert

  1. I was in Arlington cemetery the night they lay Robert Kennedy to rest. It was a very sad but memorable sight. The glow of thousands of candles was enough to reveal that there weren’t a lot of dry eyes surrounding me. R.I.P. Ted’s eulogy for his brother was wonderful, would the same be said for all of us at the end of days.

  2. Am not going to get into meaning, but the purpose of progressivism is summed up by the last words of this eulogy.
    So many hard-nosed, realistic- thinking citizens want to run government like a business. Ross Perot campaigned for the presidency on that notion. Libertarians to this day think government can be operated as businesses are operated. Yet government cannot be run as businesses are run.
    Sirhan’s bullet not only killed RFK, it also helped elect Nixon, which eventually paved the way for Trump by destabilizing US politics. Plus the bullet shook Edward Kennedy so much that his behavior was erratic to the degree that IMO (without evidence) he erased his brothers’ legacies. Not only the grief of the two assassinations, but also the knowledge that Ted too could easily be assassinated preyed on him. No wonder the rest of Ted’s life was a tragedy.
    Sirhan’s bullet was more destructive than any bullet fired in Vietnam and during the Cold War.

  3. “How I would love to be worthy of such words.”

    Perhaps these exact words won’t be spoken at your Eulogy, but honestly Heartfelt words will be spoken, and tears will fall, for surely you are loved so when you leave you will be missed by those you leave behind!

    It isn’t necessary to be loved by ‘Everybody’ as long as we are loved by ‘Someone’ that is enough to make life complete!

  4. He became recognized as “The Lion of the Senate” through his long tenure and influence. Kennedy and his staff wrote more than 300 bills that were enacted into law.

  5. You’ll need a refresher course in sociology to discuss Ted’s legacy. For starters, at the very end of her life, Mary Jo Kopechne suffered as much as George Floyd did; difference is, the former death was first degree manslaughter—the latter was judged (in court) as second degree murder.
    But to Mary Jo and George, what mattered was the fear, pain and shock.

  6. It is a sad fact that some of the best people seem to have received nothing by meanness from this stupid and crazy world. And then, the crowd will cheer for the worst people as if they were rockstars. Schopenhauer tells of such an occurrence he had read in The Times.

    And there are very clear contemporary examples too. I won’t make names here because I don’t want to attract the degenerate crowd.

  7. ” I’d love to have those words spoken honestly about me.”.

    I think that it is not very difficult to be in that position, John. The most basic requirement is simply to have a clean conscience, and to have done no harm. This in itself, I think, is something to be proud of.


    So even if you were no philosopher, I don’t see why you would not deserve these words yourself.

    Now a philosopher has worked all his life to advance his mind and to indeed see things as they really are, which few will be capable of. What man can do more than that? None. Most people try to not understand anything. One of the most brutal examples of this, that I saw for myself, is when I learned about the Holocaust. I have read for example, amongst others, the harrowing diary of Władysław Szpilman (a famous movie has been made too, which I didn’t watch, for I make the difference between entertainment and history, which most people do not.). I was really disappointed and saddened by hearing things such as, “It happened so long ago. (Shrug).”, from people I know, no less. How stupid. But hey, that is their business, after all, I have to look after my own stupidity.


    While everyone is busy with things that in the end don’t matter, the philosopher is busy with the things that in fact matter most!
    So if a honest man deserves kind words for having done no harm, how much more does a honest and good philosopher deserves them? Ten times as much!

    Just imagine if you could ask such a question to Socrates!


  8. “I’d love to have those words spoken honestly about me.”

    Perhaps since many of your friends read Reason and Meaning, some one will say; at the end of the Eulogy; as Ted Kennedy said at his brother Robert’s funeral. I now paraphrase and say of my good and truly missed friend John!

    “Some men see things as they are and say why.
    John dreamed things that never were and say why not.”

    Good bye John, the World will ne’er see your like again!

    Don’t worry excessively about the future, your life is making it’s mark!
    I’ve no doubt your life is in every measure equal to Bobby and Ted.

    Perhaps you will be recognized as the, ‘Lion of Philosophy’, you’ve certainly helped me a lot.

  9. RFK was a great man and politician, and his death was bad for everyone—even the Palestinians who Sirhan thought he was helping on the first anniversary of the Six Day War.
    Let’s not neglect a mention, though, of how the death of Kopechne can’t be glossed over. Ted Kennedy was driving the car she was drowned in, and did not report the accident for hours. He was in shock yet not shocked enough that he couldn’t return to his hotel, clean himself up and talk to people. His asking for advice before reporting the accident can be seen as his not wanting to be railroaded by the Law. Still, it can also be seen as Ted’s somewhat discounting the value of Kopechne’s life.
    A philosopher must practice due diligence in an examination of the past. Causality: if RFK had not been assassinated, we could have been spared Nixon’s destructive presidency. If Edward Kennedy had made of stronger stuff, he might have been elected president in 1980, sparing us Reagan and the resulting massive dislocation.
    As you write, Ted was a great senator; unfortunately—for both him and for us—Ted was not a great person. This matters more than ever because after four years of Trump, we now know the depths to which a president can go down to—and he isn’t done with us yet.

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