goodbye and thank you, Senator Byrd

On a hot day in late July 2004, I saw Sen. Ted Kennedy introduce Sen. Robert Byrd in an overstuffed church in Cambridge.

It was convention week, and I remember spending each day out around town with my friends, soaking up the atmosphere as hoards of Democrats converged on Boston. We were tepidly hopeful, knowing even before his official nomination that Kerry was a weak horse to back. Still, in this church, for a brief moment, Robert Byrd transported us to more idealistic times, even as he pulled no punches in criticizing the current presidency:

It is the Constitution of the United States that has been undermined, undercut, and is under attack. It is the American people’s liberties that is in jeopardy. That is why I wrote Losing America. I wrote this book to save this book.

On the mention of the second book, he took a worn copy of the Constitution from his breast pocket, a gesture that I later learned was one of his trademarks. I had the vague sense that I was catching a sliver of democracy amidst all of our cynicism and detachment, and I was grateful.
Read the full speech.

Leave a Reply