Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Yankee Doodle Dandy

Since 1976, every time I hear the song, “Yankee Doodle,” I get a mental image of Senator Edward Kennedy. The image has aged in the thirty-two years since I first made the mental connection. With the recent diagnosis of brain cancer for Sen. Kennedy, I worry that my image of the Yankee Doodle Dandy will soon be frozen.

Why Edward Kennedy became my visual representation of Yankee Doodle, I do not know, but I have some theories.

1976 was a big year for “Yankee Doodle” in the third grade circuit. As part of the nation’s bicentennial celebration, such patriotic ditties made a daily appearance in the curriculum. Somehow Kennedy’s Massachusetts connection made him the perfect Yankee Doodle in my mind. Along with that perhaps some of his playboy ways came through to a ten-year old mind and I associated him with “dandy.”

However it arrived with me, the connection stuck.

Having been born between the assassinations of his brothers, my entire life has been somewhat steeped in the Kennedy mystique. Teddy Kennedy was the only one around to live in that out in my lifetime. Whatever the event, Kennedy’s voice was always one that was heard. Even when I disagreed with him, his voice always shaped my thinking.

While the prognosis does not look positive in the long term for Sen. Kennedy, I’ll never shake my mental image of him with a tri-cornered hat with a feather.
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