Water Man Spouts

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Emerald Thread

"All of us of Irish descent are bound together by the ties that come from a common experience; experience that may exist only in memories and in legend but which is real enough to those who possess it. The special contribution of the Irish, I believe – the emerald thread that runs through the tapestry of their past – has been the constancy, the endurance, the faith that they displayed through endless centuries of foreign oppression –centuries in which even the most rudimentary religious and civil rights were denied to them – centuries in which their mass destruction by poverty, disease, and starvation were ignored by their conquerors." – Senator John F. Kennedy; 1957

Today was a special day for those of us who went through that period of time known as "the Sixties." We had an experience this day which brought back memories of the promise of that young president John F. Kennedy; the power of ideas as presented by a young man named Malcolm X; the gospel – or "good news" – preached by a young minister named Martin Luther King, Jr.; and the passion for justice expressed by a youthful Robert F. Kennedy.

Our hearts beat faster on this day, when we had those memories brought back by Senator Edward Kennedy, who has been in the US Senate since 1962. His oldest brother died in WW2, and then JFK and RFK were killed when he was a young Senator. Yet he has continued to fight the Good Fight since. As the second-longest serving Senator today, Ted is the beloved Old Lion of the democratic party.

There are many today who only know of these legendary figures-- John, Malcolm, Martin, Robert, and the others who struggled in that Era of Hope -- from the text books and film clips. Today, they were able to experience what we experienced yesterday.

A person need not be a supporter of Senator Barack Obama to appreciate the power of today. Three of the adult children of Senator Robert Kennedy have endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton, and many people recognize that former Senator John Edwards is carrying on the struggle of RFK from 1966 to ’68. Our democratic family can, like the Kennedy family, respect that there are three good choices for the nominee of our party in 2008.

We must fight the Good Fight. Our dream did not die on the battle field of Dallas, or the Teresa, in Memphis, or Los Angeles. It did not die on an Ohio campus in May of 1970. No, for as a line that Martin loved to quote states– from William Cullen Bryant’s poem, "The Battle-Field" – "Truth crushed to earth will rise again."

We have seen the dream damaged, and endured the corrupt years of Nixon, Reagan, Bush, and Cheney. But we have survived, much as that young Senator Kennedy noted that the Irish had survived. And that truth that was crushed to the earth turned to seed, and a new and powerful branch is growing today.

When I listened to Patrick and Caroline speaking today, I remembered when my favorite politician used to quote Tennyson: "Come my friend, ‘tis not too late to seek a newer world."


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