Monday, August 31, 2009

The Kennedy Whose Death We Should Be Honoring

Everyone who knew Eunice Kennedy loved her. I've never heard or read one harsh word spoken against her. She was a woman of great faith, of great compassion, and life dedicated to serving God and others.

She was a loving mother and a devoted wife. She founded the movement that became Special Olympics. She saw people with disabilities as God saw them, as precious human beings, special and wonderful in their own way.

Oprah put Eunice right up there with Obama:

Eunice Shriver lived as a champion, and I admired her so much. She was the first (and besides Barack Obama, the only) person who ever inspired me to say, "If you run for president, I'll campaign for you." This was in the 1980s. I believed then and still do that she would have made a great president. She embodied the idea of leader as servant.

She didn't run for President or Congress though. She did much better. She went out and made a difference, not by a vote or a campaign, but by her sheer determination, by her own hands. She never sought the limelight. Never needed the adoration of the public. Her work and her family were her fulfillment.

She had money of course, but she didn't live the socialite lifestyle. If she was a liberal, and she certainly saw herself as one, then I wish most liberals were like her. The Democrat party could learn a lot from her.

But on one key issue she differed from most of her family, but of course, not from her Catholic faith. This woman understood the sanctity of life, and wasn't going to let being a Democrat get in the way of the truth:

Along with her husband, Sargent Shriver, Eunice belonged to America’s dwindling population of outspoken pro-life liberals. Like her church, she saw a continuity, rather than a contradiction, between championing the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed and protecting unborn human life.

In 1990, Shriver wrote a letter to The New York Times denouncing the misuse of a quotation by President Kennedy used out of context by a pro-choice group. During Bill Clinton's 1992 Democratic U.S. presidential campaign, she was one of several prominent Democrats who signed a letter to The New York Times protesting the Democratic Party's pro-choice plank in its platform.

She lived her faith consistently. If only the rest of the Kennedys had followed her lead. Not only in faith, but in a life well lived. An honorable life filled with compassion, love, and faith. There were no skeletons in her closet, no youthful indiscretions, no shame.

A true role model.

This is the Kennedy we should have spent days and days covering on TV. This is the Kennedy that deserved the wall to wall coverage and well earned praise.

But in death, just as in life, we tend to not appreciate the angels among us.