Joan Kennedy was Force to be Dealt With in Teddy’s Earlier Life

September 4, 2009

Lingering thought after the touching images and commentary of ceremonies chronicling the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy: that first wife Joan received short notice.  With  due respect to widow Vicki, who was the essence of elegance throughout a marathon schedule, it seemed almost that Joan did not exist. One fellow television viewer was prompted to ask whether she still is alive.

The scant attention to her was notable, considering that she was mother of his children who were prominent in the services (she saw two of them through bouts with cancer). She stood byKennedy steadfastly during  his stormy years, including the Mary Jo Kopechne tragedy in 1969. Although pregnant and confined to bed in the wake  of two previous miscarriages, she attended the young woman’s funeral. Three days later, she stood beside her husband in court when he pleaded guilty to having left the scene of an accident. She even remained with him during his failed 1980 presidential campaign following their separation in 1978. Despite her own acknowledged problems with alcholism, she would seem deserving of more recogntion.

One personal memory of her loyalty in those early days remains especially vivid.  My experience with her occured at the Democratic National Convention at Atlantic City back in 1964.  Since Lyndon B. Johnson was president, following the assasination of John F. Kennedy the previous year, the Texas delegation predictably was seated immediately in front of the convention hall podium. Seated just behind us was the Massachusetts delegation. But the physical proximity was not reflected in the attitudes of the two delegations, which were chilled by the natural bitterness of the Massachusetts delegates over the tragic loss of President Kennedy, and the frost of Texans who felt that Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy was undermining Johnson

So when brother-in-law Robert Kennedy rose to speak to the convention, most of the Texas delegates sat on their hands. And in response, a young, beautiful and very animated Joan Kennedy jumped into the aisle from just behind, and loudly commanded: “stand up,  you —–, stand up!  And we stood up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: