Tuesday, October 5, 2010

After midnight, on June 5, 1968, Robert Francis Kennedy, brother of John F. Kennedy, was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan at the Ambassador Hotel after having won California’s Democratic presidential primary. During this period of time, the secret service was only responsible for protecting presidents, not presidential candidates; therefore, Kennedy was left vulnerable. Figure 1 shows how Kennedy fell to the ground after being shot in the head, neck, and chest. Approximately twenty-six hours later, Kennedy died at Good Samaritan Hospital. Sirhan was convicted of murder and was sentenced to life in prison. On June 8, 1968, Edward M. Kennedy gave the eulogy at his brother’s funeral. He addressed the public as they mourned Robert F. Kennedy’s death. In delivering the eulogy, Edward M. Kennedy demonstrates strength in his ability to comfort the public; while also displaying emotion as he, too, mourns the death of his brother. Through describing what Robert was like, and through Robert’s own words, Edward Kennedy is able to comfort the public by establishing a new sense of hope.Figure 2 shows Edward Kennedy delivering the eulogy before family, friends, and the entire nation. Although delivered more than forty years ago, what makes Edward M. Kennedy’s speech memorable, significant, and successful is how he is able to comfort his audience through his words, his displays of emotion, and the way his speech makes the public relate to the tragedy.

Kennedy’s ability to comfort through his eulogy at a time of loss and mourning makes his speech significant to audiences. According to Kennedy, “He will always be by our side,” by leaving the people “what he said, what he did, and what he stood for.” In stating this, Kennedy comforts those around him by explaining that Robert Kennedy’s plans and accomplishments for society would long out live him. In closing Robert Kennedy’s eulogy, Edward Kennedy asks the audience to “pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.” Kennedy creates a new sense of hope in people by calling his audience to action to fulfill Robert Kennedy’s plans for society despite his loss.

Kennedy’s display of emotion in the delivery of his speech gives the eulogy deeper meaning. While Kennedy expresses, “We loved him as a brother, and as a father, and as a son. From his parents and from his older brothers and sisters -- Joe and Kathleen and Jack -- he received an inspiration which he passed on to all of us,” as well as other personal information, a quiver in his voice is heard. Clearly, he tries to hold back tears in attempt to remain strong in his delivery of the eulogy. However, the fact that this quiver in his voice is heard from time to time throughout the speech, it gives the eulogy more meaning by establishing the tone of mourning compared to being a celebration of Robert Kennedy’s accomplishments in life.

The greater significance of the eulogy comes in the form of Kennedy delivering it in a way that made the tragedy relatable to the public. The eulogy is not just addressed to the family of Robert F. Kennedy. Kennedy declares, “On behalf of Mrs. Kennedy, her children, the parents and sisters of Robert Kennedy, I want to express what we feel to those who mourn with us today in this Cathedral and around the world.” From the opening of his speech, he addresses his audience before him in the cathedral and those around the nation watching or hearing the speech be delivered from their home. In addition, through addressing the family and the public, he states how they are all mourning the loss of Robert Kennedy together. As in stating, “He gave us strength in time of trouble, wisdom in time of uncertainty, and sharing in time of happiness. He will always be by our side,” Kennedy uses pronouns such as “us” and “our” to relate what Robert Kennedy did for people to his entire audience. Further in his speech, Kennedy goes on to explain what the public knew Robert Kennedy as having done for them; thus, he made it more apparent as to why his brother’s death was a great loss to all. By describing what Robert Kennedy did for society throughout his lifetime, Edward Kennedy establishes a everyman persona for his brother by explaining, “My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.” Therefore, he also accomplishes to make Robert Kennedy relatable as a person to the public.

Overall, although being a well written speech, the greater significance of the eulogy comes as a whole; through its delivery and its content. Edward Kennedy’s eulogy speech is successful due to the fact that he addressed society as a whole. Also, in displaying his emotions, he said something real; he spoke from the heart. When necessary, his confidence and strength allowed him to put aside his own pain and mourning in order to accomplish comforting others and providing them with hope of what would be rather than what could’ve been.

Work Cited

Kennedy, Edward M. "Address at the Public Memorial Service for Robert F.
Kennedy." American Rhetoric. Michael E. Eidenmuller, n.d. Web. 5 Oct. 2010.

Works Consulted

Simkin, John. "Robert F. Kennedy: Biography." Spartacus Educational. N.p., n.d.
Web. 5 Oct. 2010. USAkennedyR.htm>.