I read about kennedys for the first time in the Readers Digest, India Edition. President John F Kennedy's father made his wealth in smuggling drugs, the literary piece said. He amassed enough that he now wanted a stake in the country's official power and cast his sons in the political net. The only thing I understood as a kid was John Kennedy as a President of America was shot. But didn't know why then. Now I assume, that his father's enemies may have got something to do with it. We didn't talk about American Politics then. Shiv Sena , the Sharad Pawar fodder and the highly dramatic Indian politics was more than sufficient to add extra flavor at the dinner table. When the discussion would peak my father would say, "Can't you guys show equal enthusiasm in your school work?", at which point the heated discussions would slowly wane.
Fast Forward late 1990's - When Junior JFK died it created NEWS and was the story for the day and several days after, even when he held no official capacity. I was in the US then. The thought that went through my mind over and over was - Isn't that a charmed life - JFK's son and Onassis's oil money, this guy definitely has struck not gold, but platinum! The impression that I got from the media then was - the Prince charming of America and a potential presidential candidate was snatched away young. Those days I was more worried about school, career, moving and gave less thought to what happened in washingtonian politics.
Later in school,when I took clases in washington, it was a very matter o fact to discuss about people in politics. I was even asked, Did I know of a man named kennedy? I learnt from classmates (much senior to me ), How Sr Kennedy wanted to make an investment in official power politics and that is why the kennedys are into politics. The kennedys are trust fund babies and politics was a hobby for them. This was what my washingtonian classmates who worked in good positions in the government told me. So now I had some interpretations about the kennedy's from americans themselves.
Few years later I was in the building of the congress , meeting various state senators aide in promoting an issue that I struggled with. I was also at a protest march. Standing on the road that leads to Capitol Hill I was at one of the traffic signals with the banner that read," Don't punish me for following the law". One of the cars that stopped at the signal had rolled down their windows. I saw a guy whom I recognized as Senator Ted Kennedy. I looked inside the car and waved my banner at him. He gave me a thumbs up. This is how close I got to one of the people in America's political history. It is not a big deal, but a memorable one for me.
Edited to Add: As I was seeing the funeral on TV, the prayer that echoed in my mind is: To have the courage to go on in my pursuits. Success is yours. There is always enough light and courage to make this world a better place.