By John M. Williams
Â Â Â Â Â Â I count myself lucky. I have been fortunate to have met and shaken hands with John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Ted Kennedy. I met John Kennedy in 1960 in Wilkes-Barre, PA when he was running for the presidency of the United States. Â I was 15, and I distributed campaign literature for him.Â Â My mother was a Democratic precinct captain, and she asked me to do it.
Â Â Â Â Â Â In November 1963, I was in the mail room of the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader when Mike Napkori walked in and said, “President Kennedy is dead.” He said itÂ soÂ solemnly that everyone believed him. The whole room went quiet. Almost everyoneÂ produced tears.Â His death crushed the people in the room, as it did theÂ nation.Â Â Â Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â I met Senator Robert Kennedy in 1966 on a spring trip to Washington, DC. He was walking down theÂ hall with two men in one of the SenateÂ buildings. As he passed me, I said, “Senator Kennedy.” He stopped and asked, “Yes. Who are you?” I introduced myself. We shook hands. I remember thinking he was a small man, but possessed great charisma.Â He was pushed forward by one of the men with him. I never said more than my name.
Â Â Â Â Â I followedÂ Bobby Kennedy’s career. WhenÂ he ran for president, I supported him. The night he was assassinated, I was coming home from a date. I was listening to the radio when I heatd he had been assasinated. I was mortified. I almost hit the car in front of me. Â Another Kennedy assasinated. Â I could not believe it.Â Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â When I arrived home, I turned on the TV and listened. I was angry. Another American with great potential murdered. I stayed up for hours and listened to the news on the killing. His death numbed me.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Both Kennedy assassinations produced negative feelings in me regardingÂ gun control. I support the right of citizens to own guns. And I support background checksÂ on people buying guns at gun shows or elsewhere. I do not see backgrounds checks as an intrusion on the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Â Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Moving forward. I have met Senator Kennedy many times in Wahington, DC.Â When I was working for the American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in the 1970s, we wanted his support on legislation we wanted passed. He gave it.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â I metÂ Senator Kennedy againÂ while the disability community was working on getting the Americans with Disabilities Act passed. Another time I met him at a National Press Club softball game and once when he appeared at the National Press Club..
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â In my meetings with Senator Knnedy, he has always been very friendly, inquisitive, and forward looking. He is the epitome of the liberal lion, as were John and Robert. His leadership, courage and sense of humor are legendary, as were his brothers.Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â While I remember my meetings with Senator Kennedy, I’m sure that he does not remember me. Â Senator Kennedy has always seemed to me to be a manÂ possessing tremendous appetites forÂ justice andÂ equality for every citizen. A ferocious batttler, he is a superb legislator, a man of principal, a diplomat politician, a real humanitarian and a lovingÂ patriarch. He isÂ a great American.Â Â Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The news that Senator Kennedy has a cancerous brain tumor was as shocking as the deaths of John and Robert. I want Senator Kennedy to survive. I want to see his senatorial career continue. I am praying that he does.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â I am lucky to have met the three Kennedy brothers.
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