Senator Mike Mansfield

Eulogy for John F. Kennedy

delivered 24 November 1963, Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol

 

[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

*There was a sound of laughter and in a moment, it was no more. And so she took a ring from her finger and placed it in his hands.

There was a wit in a man neither young nor old, but a wit full of an old man's wisdom and a child's wisdom, and then, in a moment it was no more. And so she took a ring from her finger and placed it in his hands.

There was a man marked with the scars of his love of country,* a body active with the surge of a life far from spent and, in a moment, it was no more. And so she took a ring from her finger and placed it in his hands.

There was a father with a little boy and a little girl, and a joy of each in the other, and in a moment it was no more. And so she took a ring from her finger and placed it in his hands.

There was a husband who asked much and gave much, and out of the giving and the asking wove with a woman what could not be broken in life, and in a moment it was no more. And so she took a ring from her finger and placed it in his hands, and kissed him, and closed the lid of the coffin.

A piece of each of us died at that moment. Yet, in death he gave of himself to us. He gave us of a good heart from which the laughter came. He gave us of a profound wit, from which a great leadership emerged. He gave us of a kindness and a strength fused into the human courage to seek peace without fear.

He gave us of his love that we, too, in turn, might give. He gave that we might give of ourselves, that we might give to one another until there would be no room, no room at all, for the bigotry, the hatred, the prejudice, and the arrogance which converged in that moment of horror to strike him down.

In leaving us these gifts, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President of the United States, leaves with us. Will we take them, Mr. President? Will we have, now, the sense and the responsibility and the courage to take them?

I pray to God that we shall and under God we will.


Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by McGraw-Hill (2008)

* = absent from this audio but verified as delivered

Original Text Source: John F. Kennedy Library and Museum (Online)

Text Note: Modified on 5 January 2021 to reflect the audio delivery above

Page Updated: 1/5/21

U.S. Copyright Status: Text = Public domain.

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