Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Remarks in Memory of Robert F. Kennedy
Arlington National Cemetery
June 6, 2018
On behalf of my mother Ethel Kennedy and our very large family, I want to Thank the staff at Arlington Cemetery for being so kind and accommodating.
I want to thank President Clinton who graces us with his presence.
I also thank the speakers, all those who devoted their time and talent to making this service possible
and each of you for sharing in this commemoration.
It is tough to lose a parent. It was very painful to lose my father And yet, the fact that a half century later you have each come here, many traveling from far…including as far away as Australia----to share our deep sense of loss and are happy memories, and is a deeply moving tribute to the love that he inspired.
Thank you for remembering my father.
There is much to recall.
His room was next to mine. Every morning he listened to Shakespeare, while doing his push ups. I woke to grunts and Shakespeare!
In fact, he was so good at Shakespeare, he challenged to Richard Burton to a shakespear reciting contest. Of course, he won!!
One of his favorite plays was Henry V. This is the story of a king, who enjoyed a dissolute youth. And then, once crowned, led the English against a much larger force at the Battle of Agincourt on St Crispian’s Day.
The night before the battle, the English are ragged disheartened, and thinking themselves doomed to defeat.
King Harry encourages the troops. He says
And Crispian Crispian Shall ne’er go by
From this day to the ending of the world
But we in it shall be remembered
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
For he today that sheds his blood with me
shall be my brother : be he ne’er so vile
This day shall gentle his condition
And gentleman in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here
And hold their manhoods cheap while any speaks
That fought with us upon St Crispian’s Day
After President Kennedy died, my father often recited that the St Crispian Day speech. Among his friends, and with us children as we walked the grounds at Hickory Hill or in the woods nearby.
As he recited this, he was thinking of 1000 days of the Kennedy Administration, what had been accomplished and the people with whom he served.
Today as we come together, we are carrying on that legacy--- devotion to justice, dedication to freedom, love for our fellow woman and men.
Though they are worthy goals, they are not easily achieved. There is always a fight, not just on St Crispian’Day, but each hour, each day.
The odds are often long.
What the play inspire is that each of us can do what my father so admired about Harry. Harry “thawed cold fear”
He provided hope, encouragement, a belief that what we do is urgent and noble. Harry sees his soldiers not as troops to command but , “ brothers, friends and countrymen”. I would add sisters!
The point remains.
Daunting difficulties do not stymie us. We are happy, knowing that, as we seek a newer world, we are bound to one another.
We can make our own pledge to “be a touch of Harry in the night”. With courage we can “gentle our condition” as we pursue “ a feeling of justice and compassion for those who suffer in our country, and around the word.”
Thank you for lightening our burden and lifting our hearts.