Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | August 27, 2009

My Personal Memories of Ted Kennedy

I was at the JFK School of Government, Harvard University, from September 1979 through June 1981.  Two wonderful years of study and learning.   New and different experiences that stay fresh, alive and wonderful in memory after 30 years.  Two testing years of family death, serious spouse illness, unrelenting work caring and raising two babies, tight money and young passionate love of family and life – and service.

I can’t remember how many times I saw Ted Kennedy in those 2 years, or heard him speak.   Frankly, it was no big deal.  So, I guess this blog title was a bit of a tease.  I saw him a number of times.

I saw him.  I heard him.  I don’t remember anything in particular.   Although, I can see him walking to the door with Ron Brown.  Ron was the Director of the Institute of Politics.  Now, I have very clear memories of Ron Brown.

A number of times, enough to be called frequent, I would be at his table or next to his table in the morning inhaling a cup of coffee before first class.  I would go to the basement library at the Kennedy School after a night of babysitting one of my (then) two babies past teething pain or a nightmare or ear infection, etc.   The library ladies talked about me needing tape to keep my eyes open.  I studied for an hour until I hurried upstairs for coffee – and on to class (no beverages in the classroom those days).  Airborne Rangers could function on a couple of hours of sleep – day in and day out. – then!

Ron Brown was intelligent – sharp and fast – and insightful.  He was warm and humorous.  He knew from whence came the money for his institute and job.  He shepherded Kennedy in and out – on every occassion I saw them. 

I don’t know what Ron did later for Bill Clinton as Sec Commerce – although what I read was regrettable if true.  I’m sorry that he and others were killed in the plane crash in the Balkans. 

So, I saw Kennedy.  Never knew him whatsoever.  But, in the environment of the school as it was, I knew Ron Brown in passing.  I thought highly of him.  And, I still do.

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