Alex Massie

Ted Kennedy’s Finest Speech?

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Well, his address to the 1980 Democratic National Convention in New York City is probably Kennedy's most famous speech. It may not have been his finest hour but it was certainly Bob Shrum's. Indeed, so successful was it that Shrum has subsequently tried to capture its echoes in speeches written for other, invariably lesser, politicians. You need stature to be able to carry this sort of thing off. Which is one reason why other Shrum clients such as John Kerry and Gordon Brown have struggled with the speeches Shrum has written for them.

Nor, it should not need saying, does one need to agree with the argument to appreciate that it's a great speech. The peroration is, I guess, the most famous part. And fairly so:

And someday, long after this convention, long after the signs come down and the crowds stop cheering, and the bands stop playing, may it be said of our campaign that we kept the faith.

May it be said of our Party in 1980 that we found our faith again.

And may it be said of us, both in dark passages and in bright days, in the words of Tennyson that my brothers quoted and loved, and that have special meaning for me now:

"I am a part of all that I have met


To [Tho] much is taken, much abides


That which we are, we are --


One equal temper of heroic hearts


Strong in will


To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end.

For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die. Full text and - better still - audio here.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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