– Senator Ted Kennedy Address at – Holy Cross College – Worcester Mass. August 21, 1968 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Sen Ted Kennedy returned to political activity with a call for an end to the war in Vietnam and a statement that he is not a candidate for any office this year. Kennedy was stern and serious as he made his first public speech since the assassination of his brother Sen Robert Kennedy June 5. His audience; 1200 members and guests of the Worcester Chamber of Commerce gave him ovations at the opening and end of his speech. There were seven interruptions for rounds of applause. At one point the speech reminded some of the audience of the inaugural of his late brother President John Kennedy in 1961 when he said: “The torch has been passed to a new generation. . .” Sen Kennedy told his audience he had been silent since the assassination of another brother and said during the 10 weeks since then he had been advised by many to retire from public life “for safety’s sake”. “But there is no safety in hiding, not for me nor for any of us here today and not for our children who will inherit the world we make for them today. I resume my public responsibilities to the people of Massachusetts “Like my three brothers ‘before me I pick up a fallen standard” he said. “Sustained by the memory of our priceless years together, I shall try to carry forward that special commitment to justice, to excellence, to courage that distinguished their lives”. Ted Kennedy proposed a four-point program for an end to the Vietnam war: To end unconditionally all bombing of North Vietnam. 2: To then negotiate with Hanoi the mutual withdrawal from South Vietnam of all foreign forces both allied and North Vietnamese. 3: To accompany this withdrawal with whatever help we can give to the South Vietnamese in building of a viable political economic and legal structure that will not collapse upon our departure and 4: To demonstrate’ to both Hanoi and Saigon the sincerity of our intentions by significantly ‘decreasing this years of level of our military activity and military personnel in the South. Kennedy who last month issued a statement saying he was not available’ to run for vice president as many political figures had urged, told his audience that he spoke for no partisan interests but as who will not run for office this year. Ted Kennedy said that as the war progressed in Vietnam America met almost every demand of the South Vietnamese government for men and materials in the hope of helping the South Vietnamese to help themselves – these hopes are gone he said “They have foundered in miscalculation and self-deception. They have been stymied by the stubbornness of the foe but above all they have been buried “by the incompetence and corruption of our South Vietnamese ally we follow the steps I have outlined today”. Kennedy said “I believe we can put this war behind us and reach out once again for the country we know we should be”.
Here is that address, as it was given by Senator Ted Kennedy on August 21, 1968