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Raising the Standard, Lowering the Flag

Raising the Standard, Lowering the Flag

My one and only encounter with Ted Kennedy occurred in a previous life, circa 2004. Fresh out of college, I was working as a junior staffer in a bull pen-styled political office on Beacon Hill. As my workspace served as a gateway to the important offices, it was not uncommon to see dignitaries of all types pass through; what was rare, though, was any of them noticing us or stopping to even ask us the time of day.

The day Senator Kennedy came through my office on his way to meet with someone far more important than I, he paused long enough to nod his head in my direction with a warm smile and said, “Hello. How’s it going back here?” That simple-yet-thoughtful courtesy made the day of a green, 20-year old. And it’s something I still remember because the Senator seemed sincere.

The media frenzy and countless stories emerging from the throngs of those whose lives have been touched by the Liberal Lion has had me asking, “What type of life does one have to lead that in death flags across an entire nation be lowered in commemoration?” When the passage from this life to the next commands the presence of three former presidents and the sitting Commander-in-Chief, it’s safe to assume that the course taken by that life was traveled by few and its deeds matched by almost done. So, the moral of the story? We are writing our eulogies with our actions everyday. It’s not always about traveling to the most remote part of the earth to tend to the destitute and diseased – there are those who are called to that – but, rather, it is about changing the lives of those within your reach.

In 1968, at the Democratic National Convention, Senator Kennedy – just months after Robert’s assassination – said, “Like my brothers before me, I pick up the fallen standard.” Therein lies the answer to my question. In raising the standard, one lowers the flag.

Posted by Elizabeth