Peggy Noonan wrote a piece in the WSJ after the death of Senator Kennedy that resonated with me, as her writing often does. It might have been a bit egotistical of her to print the text of a speech she wrote for Ronald Reagan that he gave at a fundraiser for the JFK Presidential library, yet it was so poignant that she earned the right. Below is a passage from what Reagan said about JFK in the speech.
“I have been told that late at night when the clouds are still and the moon is high, you can just about hear the sound of certain memories brushing by. You can almost hear, if you listen close, the whir of a wheelchair rolling by and the sound of a voice calling out, ‘And another thing, Eleanor.’ Turn down a hall and you hear the brisk strut of a fellow saying, ‘Bully! Absolutely ripping!’ Walk softly now and you’re drawn to the soft notes of a piano and a brilliant gathering in the East Room, where a crowd surrounds a bright young president who is full of hope and laughter.
“I don’t know if this is true, but it’s a story I’ve been told, and it’s not a bad one because it reminds us that history is a living thing that never dies. . . . History is not only made by people, it is people. And so history is, as young John Kennedy demonstrated, as heroic as you want it to be, as heroic as you are.”
Teddy and the Reagans were close friends, says Noonan. And the letter that Teddy sent Ronnie summed up his gratitude and his feeling about his political rival. “The next morning he poured out his gratitude in a handwritten letter. “I only wish Jack could have been there too last night,” he wrote. “Your presence was such a magnificent tribute to my brother. . . . The country is well served by your eloquent graceful leadership Mr. President.” He signed it, “With my prayers and thanks for you as you lead us through these difficult times.”