He Had Amazing Grace
In a stirring eulogy delivered at
the Church of St. Thomas More, Senator Edward M. Kennedy celebrated the life of his
nephew, John Jr.
Once, when they asked John what he
would do if he went into politics and was elected president, he said: "I guess the
first thing is call up Uncle Teddy and gloat." I loved that. It was so like his
father. From the first day of his life, John seemed to belong not only to our family, but
to the American family. The whole world knew his name before he did.
A famous photograph showed John
racing across the lawn as his father landed in the White House helicopter and swept up
John in his arms. When my brother saw that photo, he exclaimed, "Every mother in the
United States is saying, 'Isn't it wonderful to see that love between a son and his
father, the way that John races to be with his father.' Little do they know that son would
have raced right by his father to get to that helicopter."
But John was so much more than
those long-ago images emblazoned in our minds. He was a boy who grew into a man with a
zest for life and a love of adventure. He was a pied piper who brought us all along. He
was blessed with a father and mother who never thought anything mattered more than their
When they left the White House,
Jackie's soft and gentle voice and unbreakable strength of spirit guided him surely and
securely to the future. He had a legacy, and he learned to treasure it. He was part of a
legend, and he learned to live with it. Above all, Jackie gave him a place to be himself,
to grow up, to laugh and cry, to dream and strive on his own.
John learned that lesson well. He
had amazing grace. He accepted who he was, but he cared more about what he could and
should become. He saw things that could be lost in the glare of the spotlight. And he
could laugh at the absurdity of too much pomp and circumstance.
He loved to travel across this city
by subway, bicycle and Rollerblade. He lived as if he were unrecognizable although he was
known by everyone he encountered. He always introduced himself, rather than take anything
for granted. He drove his own car and flew his own plane, which is how he wanted it. He
was the king of his domain.
He thought politics should be an
integral part of our popular culture, and that popular culture should be an integral part
of politics. He transformed that belief into the creation of George. John shaped and honed
a fresh, often irreverent journal. His new political magazine attracted a new generation,
many of whom had never read about politics before.
John also brought to George a wit
that was quick and sure. The première issue of George caused a stir with a cover
photograph of Cindy Crawford dressed as George Washington with a bare bellybutton.
"The Reliable Source" in the Washington Post printed a mock cover of George
showing not Cindy Crawford, but me dressed as George Washington, with my bellybutton
exposed. I suggested to John that perhaps I should have been the model for the first cover
of his magazine. Without missing a beat, John told me that he stood by his original