Friday, July 18, 2014



Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts (JFK+50) Massachusetts Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy drove off the Dike Bridge 45 years ago this evening, July 18, 1969.

The Senator's Oldsmobile submerged into the water and while Ted managed to escape his 28 year old passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne*, drowned.

Ms. Kopechne had been a campaign worker for Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

Dike Bridge at Chappaquiddick
Photo by Arwcheek (2008)

In his Memoir, Senator Kennedy writes...

"When I finally did stumble off into the darkness after my futile efforts to rescue Mary Jo, my mind was a jumble of mutually conflicting thoughts.  I believed that the young woman was dead, and the thought buckled me with grief and horror.  At the same time, I'd managed to convince myself that she surely must have escaped, given that I had not seen her in the car.  Perhaps I had misperceived while I was in the dark water.  Perhaps I could wish it all away."

Senator Kennedy continued...

"But I could not wish it all away.  I had suffered many losses in my life.  I had lost all of my brothers and my sister Kathleen.  My father had been lost to me in many respects because of his...stroke.  And now this horrible accident.  But again, the difference this time was that I myself was responsible.  I was driving.  Yes, it was an accident.  But that doesn't erase the fact that I had caused an innocent woman's death.

Atonement is a process that never ends.  I believe that.  Maybe it's a New England thing, or an Irish thing, or a Catholic thing.  Maybe all of those things.  But it's as it should be."


"True Compass, A Memoir," by Edward M. Kennedy, Twelve, New York City. 2009.

*Mary Jo Kopechne (1940-1969) was born in Wilkes-Barre, PA. and graduated from Caldwell College for Women in 1962.  She taught a year at the Mission of St. Jude in Alabama and worked as a secretary for Senator George Smathers.

MJK joined RFK's secretarial staff in 1964 and worked as a speechwriter for RFK in the  1968 presidential campaign.  At the time of her death, she lived in Georgetown.

 "I'M SORRY" #1 HIT 

New York City (JFK+50) 15 year old  Brenda Lee's recording "I'm Sorry" reached the #1 slot on the pop charts 54 years ago today, July 18, 1960.

Miss Lee, 4'9" tall and weighing 90 pounds, was born in Atlanta, Georgia.

Brenda Lee went on to earn twenty-seven more top 40 hits in the 1960s, more than any other solo entertainer of the decade.

In the late 1980s, we were having dinner at a buffet restaurant in Dollywood. As we were going down the buffet line, standing next to me was Brenda Lee who had a singing engagement at the park.  

Brenda Lee and Peter Denton
Peter Denton Photo
April 8, 1962


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President Harry S Truman signed into law 67 years ago today, July 18, 1947,  the Presidential Succession Act for which he had lobbied since taking over for the late Franklin D. Roosevelt on April 12, 1945.

The act would reinstate the order of President succession which had first been established by Congress in 1792, but it moved the Speaker of the House to the next in line for the Presidency behind the Vice-President with the President of the Senate following.


Chicago, Illinois (JFK+50) Franklin D. Roosevelt was nominated here in Chicago 74 years ago this evening, July 18, 1940, by the delegates of the Democratic National Convention for an unprecedented third term as President of the United States.

While there was currently no law prohibiting a United States president from serving more than two terms, there was no precedent for doing so.

After 2 terms, George Washington retired to Mount Vernon & no subsequent President has broken that example or tradition.

By the 22nd Amendment (1947), no President may serve more than 2 terms of office.  Congressman John F. Kennedy voted for the proposal to restrict Presidents to 2 terms. 

 In 1962, President Kennedy was asked if he would still support the restriction.  His answer was...



Charleston, South Carolina (JFK+50)  The 54th Massachusetts Regiment, made up of African-American soldiers commanded by white officers, failed in a valiant effort 151 years ago this evening, July 18, 1863, to take Confederate Fort Wagner.

The fort, located on Morris Island, was a Confederate earth work 600 feet wide and 30 feet high.

The 54th was led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw who is from a family of prominent Boston abolitionists.

The attack began at 7:45 p.m. with Shaw's regiment marching down the beach.

The 54th suffered 1500 casualties including Colonel Shaw who was killed with 222 for the Confederates.

The story of the 54th Massachusetts is presented in the Academy Award winning 1990 film "Glory" starring Mathew Broderick, Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman. 

"The Old Flag Never 
Touches the Ground"
by Rick Reeves (2004)