Yesterday we would have mourned, perhaps wept.
If yesterday was before the foisting of the inexperienced, unqualified Obama on the nation, if yesterday was before helping George W. with No Child Left Behind, if yesterday was before the dynastic promotion of the inexperienced, unqualified Caroline, we would have mourned, perhaps wept.
This morning we woke to the sound of a bagpipe. The lament came from a construction worker, at the top floor of a construction site. In military poise and workingman clothes the construction worker paid solemn tribute with the pained tones of the pipes. There was no need to explain why the pipes moaned. We knew if was for the last brother.
We thought of the Arthurian novel The Once And Future King. King Arthur, on the eve of a battle in which he knows he will lose his life speaks to thirteen year old Thomas Mallory. The great king of legend and Camelot and Avelon reveals what animated his work and gives a mission to young Tom.
King Arthur tells Tom to flee from the battlefield that very night, to go home without hesitation and without disobedience and without illusions. “Don’t get these legendary people muddled up” Arthur tell the boy. “It is I who tell you about my idea.”
Asks Arthur of the young Tom, “Will you promise to be careful of yourself afterward? Will you try to remember that you are a kind of vessel to carry on the idea, when things go wrong, and that the whole hope depends on you alive?”
Then Arthur, the great soon-to-be-slain King of legend, confides the great mission to the brokenhearted slender boy on a dark night before a great battle:
Thomas, my idea of those knights was a sort of candle, like these ones here. I have carried it for many years with a hand to shield it from the wind. It has flickered often. I am giving you the candle now–you won’t let it out?”
Mallory lived to carry out his mission and never let the fires of Camelot burn out in the hearts of men, and women. But, one yesterday in 2008, Ted Kennedy snuffed out the fire he was entrusted with.
We do not mourn, we do not weep today. We can however remember our own innocent days when we defended Ted in Palm Springs. We can remember happier days before he drove the party of FDR over the bridge.
We can remember the “Teddy” before he blocked Hillary from having any meaningful leadership role in the Senate on health care because he wanted to lead the charge. Instead of leading the charge, he took with himself a crucial vote. What he wanted to cradle, he strangled.
We will remember the young Ted, voice breaking for his slaughtered brother and for his other slaughtered brother. We will remember the young Ted, smooth-skinned, black haired, and slender.
But too many of us have been driven over the bridge to weep today. We can remember. We can carry our own candles now.