Monday, November 1, 2010

I Will Miss You, Mr. Sorensen








                                          I Will Miss You, Mr. Sorensen         


     “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” 
As any American knows, those famous words were spoken by President John F. 
Kennedy at his 1961 inauguration. What many people may not know is that those 
words were written by Ted Sorensen, President Kennedy’s Special Advisor and 
Counselor.
    Sorensen died on Halloween at the age of 82. 
    I find it both ironic and oddly fitting that the man whose eloquent, moving words 
still make me cry, died just two days before our country’s midterm elections. Elections 
whose campaigns have been more base, insulting, and hateful than any I can 
recall. Campaigns that have been completely devoid of the eloquence of  JFK's 
speechwriter. 
    Which is why I will miss Ted Sorensen.
    Growing up, it was Sorensen's words that blared from our blonde-wood television 
set. I may not have understood everything I heard, but I recognized that the words 
were thoughtful and inspirational. Words that held my parents' attention with rapt interest.
Important words that frequently caused them to shush me whenever President Kennedy 
spoke to the nation.                                                                                               
    Sorensen wasn’t even 25 yet when Kennedy hired him as an assistant in 1953. 
In his 2008 memoir, Sorensen says of Kennedy during the interview,  “I was struck by 
this unpretentious, even ordinary man with his extraordinary background, a wealthy 
family, a Harvard education, and a heroic war record. He did not try to impress me with 
his importance; he just seemed like a good guy."
     By comparison, Sorensen was born in Lincoln, Nebraska. A staunch pacifist, he 
registered for the draft as a conscientious objector. Although their backgrounds were 
very different, Sorensen and Kennedy shared the same passion for serving their country. 
Their intellects and turn of phrase were so in tune with each others that biographers are 
still arguing that Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize for “Profiles in Courage,” should have been 
given to Sorensen instead.
     Sorensen was also one of President Barack Obama's biggest fans and publicly 
endorsed his run for the presidency in 2007. Initially, he suggested Obama consider 
waiting to run for the presidency because he felt Obama would,” inherit a country in bad 
shape, a presidency and a federal government in bad shape after eight years of what I 
call 'shame and pain.' "
     He certainly did.                                                                                        
     But I still believe in President Barack Obama. I believe he is the best hope we have. 
And those who are hoping to dismantle his dreams at the polls tomorrow may be in for a 
shock. Because I think the younger generation that helped elect President Obama has 
been sitting back and listening. Watching, while this year's midterm campaigns escalated
 into the absurd. I think they are as sick of the mudslinging as any adult. 
      Maybe more so.       
      I think they want to hear words that inspire not insult. Words, like those of Sorensen, 
that offer a return to intelligent discussion, leadership, and guidance.   
       I just hope they haven’t been so nauseated by what they've seen and heard that
they stay away from the polls tomorrow.
       I hope they do what Sorensen would do.
       Vote.
           

12 comments:

Steve said...

Beautiful and eloquent, as always.

Lorin said...

Agreed. I sometimes feel like the hateful rhetoric and the incessant blaring of misleading messages is meant to hypnotize us into a depressed complacency. I wish there was a positive way to "control the message," and I hope we find it soon!

Laura Vasilion said...

From: Lsdelay
To: vasilionle@aol.com
Sent: Mon, Nov 1, 2010 11:27 pm
Subject: Re: Newest Blog Entry http://forthelifeofmelv.blogspot.com/2010/11/i-will-miss-you-mr-sorensen.html

This is beautiful!

Sent from my iPad

Laura Vasilion said...

From Jan Hofmeister

From: Mark Hofmeister
To: vasilionle@aol.com
Sent: Tue, Nov 2, 2010 11:20 am
Subject: Re: New Blog Posting


Laura,

I so agree with everything you said! I will vote to the best of my
ability considering all the nonsense that clouds my mind. Liars,
witches, compete ignoramousus, Madigan flunkies.... possible Senators
who don't care to know the Constitution.... Uggh! I ramble but Laura,
you put it so well! Love your insights (and you)! Jan

I, too, believe in Obama!

Laura Vasilion said...

From John Gamble

Thanks Laura,

I meant to tell you I have enjoyed reading your blog. Keep emailing when you update.

Sincerely,



John

Laura Vasilion said...

From Sandy Jelm via e-mail


Dear Laura,

Your excellent piece belongs in the Op/Ed sections of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Herald, etc.

~Sandy



P.S. I loved what his wife said of him for the obituary.

Laura Vasilion said...

From Deb Brod, via e-mail

I love this. You're becoming a really interesting, thoughtful blogger, Laura. I am both impressed and inspired. I love how you linked Sorenson's death with the election.

Deb

Jenny said...

Laura,
This is a wonderful tribute to Ted Sorensen. And I agree about the awful mudslinging. I think the debasing language from both political parties is an embarrassment to our country.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Love,
Jenny

Laura Vasilion said...

Teresa Budasi commented on your link.

Teresa wrote:
"Just caught up with this post. Nice work. I enjoyed the other ones, too. You
should post more!"

Anarchist Mother said...

Laura,
Highlighting the life of this eloquent speech writer is so important. Those who write the words our leaders deliver are the unsung heroes of our democracy.
Speaking of eloquent writers, your blog continues to shine. Perhaps you can write speeches for me when I launch my campaign? ;)
Lori B.

Laura Vasilion said...

Thanks for you comments, Lori. I especially liked, "Those who write the words our leaders deliver are the unsung heroes of our democracy." Very well said. You don't need a speech writer, but if you ever decide run for office, I'd be
honored to write for you :)

Laura Vasilion said...

From Talitha via e-mail

Hi Laura,
Thank you for your blog. I, too, believe in our President and want to see our country move forward. I feel that so many politicians are focused on their own agendas and failing to look at the needs of the citizens. Whatever happened to holding our President in the highest esteem in the spirit of patriotism? Thank you for including me.
Best,
Talitha