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Saturday, February 23 , 2019, 1:24 pm | Fair 36º


Letter to the Editor: Building a Disconnect Between Heroism and Dereliction of Duty

Courage is that supreme act of human capacity tested by inhuman circumstances. The instantaneous reaction of valor or cowardice is as life altering as the importance of the event. Military cemeteries are crowded with heroes who chose to quickly embrace eternity rather than be slowly suffocated by remorse — ordinary people who became extraordinary because of valiant selflessness; none of them were called the Lion of the Senate or were knighted by the queen of England. But then, none of them would have abandoned a friend to die or seek legal advice before help. Leave no one behind was their pledge.

On the night of July 18, 1969, 29-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne drowned, and her death cost the driver his assumed bid for the presidency in 1972. Obviously little more, considering Senator Ted Kennedy’s long run in politics and the reverence given his achievements. For Kennedy, the difference between heroism and dereliction of duty was nine hours — the amount of time he waited until summoning police to his submerged car with Kopechne still in it.

The pomp and circumstance attributed to the ailing, 77-year-old senator ignore his failed test of mettle and, as if his titles aren’t tarnished enough by the facts of Chappaquiddick, there is the $5.5 million of the federal spending bill going for the new Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate.

To call this edifice an earmark or pork as usual, insults the pig.

Mary Alice Altorfer
New Braunfels, Texas (and former Carpinteria resident)

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