I had planned to write a post today about ACI-NA’s Public Safety and Security Conference, underway now in Arlington. We have 150 people there, all of whom are dedicated to ensuring a safe and secure transportation system. There are a lot of important topics on the agenda. But the news this morning about the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy has changed my plan. I will write the post I planned for today, but will do it later in the week.
When you get to a certain age, you start reacting differently to the news of the passing of prominent individuals. You see, many times such news not only marks the passing of a person, but an era. This one qualifies.
Undated file photograph of a young Edward "Ted" Kennedy at New York international airport.
I was four years old when my parents took me to see then-Senator John F. Kennedy speak during the 1960 campaign. I don’t recall what he said, of course, but I remember the event, clearly. I asked some questions of my parents and it was then I decided I wanted to move toward government and politics. I guess I might be among the youngest people in America who were directly inspired by JFK.
Like anyone of a certain age, I remember where I was on Nov. 22, 1963 – and during the several days that followed. I remember RFK’s tribute to his brother during the 1964 Democratic Convention (I was a political dork even then, watching convention coverage), and where I was during those days in June, 1968 when RFK was murdered, mourned and buried. And I certainly remember the eulogy Ted Kennedy gave that day – and shed a tear even today when it was replayed on the radio.
I was in the audience at Madison Square Garden at the Democratic Convention in 1980 when Ted Kennedy gave his “…the dream shall never die…” speech. I’m sure that one will be played often in the days ahead. I was sitting with a fellow I knew who was a senator from Nigeria (they had senators back then), and it was a great thrill to see his reaction. Being there…well it was quite something.
My wife was in the audience at American University last year when Senator Kennedy, along with his niece Caroline, endorsed Barack Obama for president. Many historians say that Senator Kennedy’s prime as an American political figure is really the period bracketed by those speeches, after he came to terms with the end of his presidential ambitions.
So, there is a personal nexus here for me for many reasons. Oh yes, there is also an aviation nexus. I haven’t heard much (actually I’ve heard nothing) so far today in all the tributes about this, but some remember that it was Ted Kennedy who provided a great deal of the energy and ambition behind airline deregulation. His view was that fares would come down, choice would increase and customer service would be enhanced. Still a work in progress.
I don’t know about any of you, but I will be watching as much of the coverage of this as I can the next few days. I will especially be looking for clips from some of the past events I’ve mentioned, and many others as well.
Ted Kennedy. RIP