Four Brothers, One Enduring Spirit

Thousands of Kennedy admirers stood outside Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Boston while family, colleagues and friends filled the church to say final goodbyes to the senator.
By Vince Bzdek
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 30, 2009

BOSTON -- If siblings are fortunate, they share bonds that go far beyond their bloodlines. Though it may seem strange to say, given the many tragedies that existed alongside their triumphs, the Kennedy brothers were among the fortunate ones.

At least in that sibling way.

Theirs is a story of a unique American brotherhood, their bond and their lives so intimately woven into the history of a nation.

And Edward M. Kennedy, the youngest of them, lived to finish their collective story.

In his last days he spoke of looking forward to resting beside his brothers in Arlington National Cemetery.

"Ted Kennedy has gone home now," President Obama said in his eulogy Saturday, "guided by his faith and by the light of those that he has loved and lost. At last he is with them once more."

Former senator Harris Wofford (D-Pa.), a onetime aide to John F. Kennedy who was instrumental in the birth of the Peace Corps, saw the Kennedy brothers as variations on a theme.

"It's the same spirit in different forms," he said.

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) offered a similar observation about the famous brotherhood at a Friday night memorial for Ted Kennedy.

"John Kennedy inspired our America," Dodd said. "Robert challenged our America. Our Teddy changed America."

Ted Kennedy took his brothers' violent deaths and tried to alchemize something positive out of them, something more than the powerful symbolism of their loss.

What John and Bobby dreamed, he tried to build, law by law.

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