Better angels

This has been a lump in the throat week, first with Barack Obama winning the nomination and then with the remembrances of Robert Kennedy. Obama moves me when he speaks. I haven’t heard someone with his eloquence since John F. Kennedy. I can still remember Kennedy’s trip to Berlin and his famous I am a Berliner speech, the words said in German. Berlin had a wall, which was part of a division called the Iron Curtain, through its city’s heart, and his words electrified the crowd and electrified those watching him on TV, like me. Obama brings up a sense of hope in me; he calls upon the angels of our better natures, words another eloquent man, Abraham Lincoln, first used.

So there are always tears at the back of my eyes when Obama is at his best. And those tears slipped over this week watching the tributes to Robert Kennedy. Kennedy wasn’t as eloquent as his brother, but he was intense. You knew he cared. You knew he was stirred. And you knew he was a fighter. You knew that he represented something different, something the status quo had better be afraid of because the times were achanging, and he said it, felt it, lived it, campaigned it. I still remember waking up to my alarm going off, news radio shouting that Robert F. Kennedy had been assassinated. My lumbering up to run to a TV to find out more. It couldn’t be possible, I thought. Not after the blow that was Martin Luther King’s assassination. But it was possible. 1968 was a year of wrenching kills, as if men who dared reach out to the stars must be destroyed by our barbaric heart. It was the year we all grew cynical.

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2 responses to “Better angels

  1. I dont if Karleen will read this. i was hoping to be able to find an email address and email her. But this is the best i could do.

    My name is Milan and i’m 17. I love to read anything i can my hands on. I’m fascinated by the 18th century. I finished ur book in a day. I couldn’t put it down. I started yesterday afternoon and just finished it. I was moved by this novel. Best one i have read yet. When i got to Chapter 27 and read about Roger’s death, I put the book down and started to cry. It was so tragic. Barbara had no children and she was widowed at twenty. I’ve read another similar to the ending of this novel, and i must say this one has touched me inexpilicably. In fact, when i reflect on the ending, i still want to weep. I just want to thank Ms. Koen for the novel and let her know that she is at the top of my list of favorite others.

    -Milan

  2. I have had a similar reaction in listening to Obama’s speeches and also in observing his style. JFK’s actual words in German at the Berlin Wall were, “Ich bin ein Berliner”, which translates to “I am a Berliner.” It was a significant comment in a significant speech at the height of the Cold War, after the Communists had erected the infamous Berlin Wall to entrap the Germans remaining on the other side of the border.

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