Saturday, November 1, 2014



Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Today we conclude our review of Benjamin C. Bradlee's* article "He Had That Special Grace" from Newsweek's Special Section in its issue dated December 2, 1963.

The section of Mr. Bradlee's article that we will discuss today is titled A Laugh With Love.

Bradlee writes...

"John Kennedy reveled in love for the Irish patrimony that he had left so far behind.  He laughed with love at the roguery of his grandfather, Honey Fitz, and his trip to Ireland was a pilgrimage to that love."

John F. Kennedy was the first President of the United States of Irish descent. As Ben Bradley says, JFK loved that Irish heritage, was proud of it, and the Irish, both in America and in Ireland and around the world, were proud of him.

Mr. Bradlee continues...

"He loved his brothers and sisters with a tribal love.  All Kennedys were born gregarious, but under siege it could be the Kennedys against the world."

This surely was the absolute truth.  While Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy brought his children up to be competitive with each other, he also instilled in them the importance of supporting each other in dealings with those outside the Kennedy clan.

JFK's mother, Rose, enjoyed telling the story of how when Joe Junior and Jack, as young men, began to differ with their father's political views,  Joe Senior remarked that he didn't mind this behavior as long as they supported each other.

"John Kennedy loved his children with a light that lit up his world.  He discovered his daughter when election brought them finally under the same roof, and he delighted in her pride and in her performance.

His heart leapt up when he saw his son, careening through life as if there were no tomorrow, and he lit up the hearts of all who saw them enjoy each other."

JFK was the youngest elected president, and he and Jacqueline brought to the White House the youngest children to live there since Theodore and Edith Roosevelt's day.

Magazines of the early 60s, such as Life and Look, adorned their covers with photographs of Caroline and John John.  It would be hard to find so many magazine covers of other presidential offspring.

Mr. Bradlee adds...

"And John Kennedy loved his wife, who served him so well.  Their life together began as it ended--in a hospital--and through sickness and loneliness there grew the special love that lights up the soul of the lover and the loved alike."

Today we know all too well the trials and tribulations of the Kennedy marriage, but we also know that Ben Bradlee's statement is true.

The last sentence in He Had That Special Grace also was and is the truth.  It was so hard to accept more than 50 years ago.  It is so hard to accept now.

"John Kennedy is dead, and for that we are lesser people in a lesser land."

The Bradlees and The Kennedys
Newport Country Club
Photo by Robert Knudsen
JFK Library Image


"He Had That Special Grace...," by Benjamin Bradlee, Newsweek Magazine, December 2, 1963.

Benjamin C. Bradlee
by Miguel Ariel Contreras