A few minutes ago, I left my office and went down to the street outside to watch as Sen. Kennedy's cortege went by. It was a short procession and moving rather rapidly for such an event in the city's streets. Fortunately, the sidewalk in front of my building was not heavily packed, so I was able to stand at the curb and get a glimpse of the hearse, flag-draped coffin inside, and the cars and a bus holding the family that followed. The Kennedy family graciously had the windows down in the cars, so that they were able to sense the affection, even love, of those on the street. As the procession--still out of my line of sight--approached the corner of Court and Tremont Streets, the people who could see it began to applaud, and I found myself joining in. And so we said goodbye to Ted with a soft patter of hands.
They are saying on television that it is the end of Camelot, that never again will the Kennedy Compound in Hyannisport be the center of a major news event. Very likely, that is true--that this is the final act of the Kennedy family as the closest thing that we have had to royalty. Yet I prefer to think of the things that the family has done: the civil rights, immigration, labor and healthcare legislation that they were instrumental in bringing to reality, the Special Olympics, and above all the spirit of citizenship, service and friendliness that characterized, and still characterizes them.