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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Can You Imagine?

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

"On the day that [my uncle] President Kennedy was buried, my father Robert Kennedy, gave me a note that he had hand written that day. What he wrote to me did not convey fear, anger, or bitterness ... 'Dear Kathleen, you seemed to understand that Jack died and was buried today. As the oldest of the Kennedy grandchildren – you have a particular responsibility to John [my cousin] and Joe [my brother]. Be kind to others and work for your country. Love, Daddy.'

"Can you imagine in your own moment of unimaginable loss, reminding your child – to turn outward, not inward, to perform works of kindness and not of anger or revenge? It still stops my breath to think of him stealing away on that chaotic, dreadful day, for a quiet half-minute at his desk to make sure I would have this message with me always.

"My father’s message was very clear as he entrusted me with his sense of duty to family and country. This duty was built on a foundation of Christian teachings about service to others and social justice [as promoted by the priests and nuns who taught us]. [They taught] the good life did not come just from following the rules and resisting temptations – after all, Jesus did not follow the rules – but from taking our faith out of our houses of worship and putting it into practice."

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is the eldest child of Robert F. Kennedy. She worked in the U.S. Department of Justice before serving two terms as Lieutenant Governor of Maryland. She is the author of the book, "Failing America’s Faithful".

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