"Flowers Will Grow From His Grave
For the Benefit of Man"
A Eulogy of John F. Kennedy
~ Excerpted from the New Book ~
by Senator Jacob Javits
by Ted Tobias
Eulogies of Famous People
The excerpt, below, is from the new book, In Tribute: Eulogies of Famous People, by Ted Tobias. The excerpt contains the full text of Jacob Javits' eulogy of John F. Kennedy. This book will help all those who struggle to find the words to express loss, while helping us realize how these words can lead to profound changes in the world around us.
A case in point is the eulogy of John F. Kennedy by Jacob Javits. The Republican senator used his memorial of the Democratic president to push for passage of the Civil Rights Act -- arguably the most important piece of legislation in the last 50 years. When Javits said of Kennedy, "flowers will grow from his grave for the benefit of man," he was explicitly referring to this liberating law.
This excerpt also contains Daniel Patrick Moynihan's eulogy of Javits 23 years later. Millions of people gather at the Javits Center each year, yet few outside of New York know anything about the man or his works.
Further information about the book and the author follows the excerpt. Thank you for your interest.
"Flowers Will Grow From His Grave
A Eulogy of John F. Kennedy
For the Benefit of Man"
by Senator Jacob Javits
at a Senate Memorial Service (December 1963)
Mr. President, hundreds of thousands of words have been published, and hundreds of thousands more have been spoken into the microphones of the world since John F. Kennedy was struck down in Dallas, but none of them were really adequate. Words never are in the face of senseless tragedy.
Words cannot describe how the American people felt when they lost their president. Not until the vacuum of disbelief was filled with the horror of comprehension did any of us realize how much we identified ourselves, even apart from personal friendship, with the president -- this intellectual, vigorous young man -- and he would have been that if he were eighty -- expressing the very essence of the youthfulness of our nation. It seems of little consequence now that there were political differences, or objections to this or that legislative product, though as far as I am concerned there was a very large measure of agreement. What matters is that feeling of loss -- that personal sense of emptiness -- that all Americans feel because their president was cut off in the prime of life. As a nation, we have lost a president who understood the institution of the presidency, gloried in its overwhelming responsibilities, and discharged his duties with dash and joy, which were an inspiration to the youth of our nation.
But John F. Kennedy was more than that. He was a man filled with the joy of living. He was a husband, a father -- and my friend.
For myself, I remember coming to Congress the dame day he did. We were sworn in together on the same January day in 1947. A photograph on my office wall shows that we two, returning veterans, looked a little uncomfortable at the moment in our civilian clothes. It shows us looking at the Taft-Ellender-Wagner housing bill, and it recalls the first job we did together when we called on the National Veterans Housing Conference of 1947, which we had organized, to back this bill. It was the beginning of an association which extended throughout our careers in the House and Senate. We collaborated in many bipartisan matters, as is not unusual in the Congress. Indeed, in our service together in the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, we worked closely -- as did Senator Morse and others -- on the minimum wage bill, the Labor-Management Disclosure Act, and other similar measures which were major aspects of Senator Kennedy's legislative career.
I am a personal witness to the fact that he was resourceful, optimistic, and creative. He became and was my friend, and this is a deep source of gratification to me and to Mrs. Javits and our family.
Mrs. Javits, too, knew President Kennedy well and admired him greatly. She will, I know, always think of the president's graciousness and the warmth of personal friendship which he exuded.
Only a week before his tragic passing, I saw him in the Oval Room at the White House when he accepted the report of the Advisory Committee on Medical Care for the Aged, in which Senator Anderson and I joined, and issued a statement offering encouragement and help.
He was vigorous and healthy and smiling and friendly -- a complete human being, concerned about other human beings who were no longer as vigorous and not quite as healthy as they used to be.
This concern for the unfortunate by a many with all of the social graces and all the social status and as much power as America allows one man was what made him so much the symbol of the youth of our country. His wife, Jacqueline, who has given Americans so much reason to be very proud of her and of all American womanhood as she reflected in it, in these last mournful weeks, in the way she carried herself, has said the most beautiful tribute -- that John F. Kennedy had the "hero idea of history," and that she did not want people to forget John F. Kennedy -- the man -- and replace him with some shadowy figure in the history books.
She need not fear that. There are already thousands upon thousands of people in the world working to keep his memory alive. I have been privileged to join with many others in this body in cosponsoring a bill to rename the National Cultural Center and make it a living, vibrant memorial to this vibrant man who loved the arts. And with Senator Humphrey, I have joined in a bill establishing a commission to ensure that only the most appropriate memorials be created in his honor.
These are well-meaning, deeply sincere tokens -- necessary, but still tokens. In reality it will be John F. Kennedy's youthful freshness in his aspirations for our country that will keep his memory fresh.
In a real sense we, his former colleagues in the Congress, are the only ones with the power to write words which can transform these aspirations into memorials with meaning. We can write legislative acts, like a meaningful civil rights law, which would consecrate and perpetuate John F. Kennedy's love for personal and national dignity. We can exorcise from our country -- and the American people are doing that even now -- those extremes of hatred and disbelief in public affairs which create a climate in which terrible acts become much more likely.
Acts such as these will be his final memorials. It is within our power to establish them. Perhaps his noblest memorial is that he would have wanted such memorials almost as no others.
So, in common with my colleagues in this solemn service -- and that is what this is today -- I bespeak for Mrs. Javits and my children -- and I would place their names in the Record, so that as they read this Record when they grow up, I hope they will read their names in it and see that their father spoke with deep sympathy -- Joy, Joshua, and Carla, to Mrs. Kennedy and the children, and to the president's father and mother and his brothers and sisters and their families our deepest sympathy on this terrible bereavement, for our nation and for all mankind, and in the deep expectation that flowers will grow from his grave for the benefit of man.
ABOUT JACOB JAVITS
(May 18, 1904 - March 7, 1986)
United States senator and lawyer Jacob K. Javits was born in New York City, the son of Morris and Ida (Littman) Javits. He married Marian Ann Borris in 1947, and the couple had three children. Javits received a bachelor's of law degree from New York University in 1926, and over his lifetime was the recipient of 37 honorary degrees.
Javits entered into private practice in New York City in 1927 and joined the U.S. Army in 1942. A major, he served as assistant to chief of operations, serving in both the European and Pacific theaters of operations from 1942 to 1945. He was discharged as a colonel, and decorated with the Legion of Merit.
Javits was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1947, where he served the 21st New York District until 1954. He was New York state's attorney general from 1954 to 1957. Javits returned to Washington in 1957 as a senator from New York, where he remained until 1981. A liberal Republican who initially was a supporter of the war in Vietnam, Javits introduced legislation that became the War Powers Act (1973), restricting the president's authority to commit troops abroad.
After leaving the Senate, Javits was assistant professor of public affairs at Columbia University. A prolific author, his books include Discrimination U.S.A. (1960), Who Makes War (1973), and Javits: The Autobiography of a Public Man (1981). Javits was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983, and was a member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and numerous other civic organizations. He was a lifelong resident of New York City.
Eulogy for Jacob Javits
by Daniel P. Moynihan
at a Memorial Service in New York City (March 1986)
"Let us now praise famous men and our fathers that begat us." Thus from Ecclesiastes, whose author describes himself as "king of Jerusalem" and whose thoughts commend themselves on this day that we remember Jacob Koppel Javits.
For as we think of him, now radiantly a part of our history, we do well to think of the history, the ideas, the devotions he brought to his triumphant and, at the end, transcendent life. Of these, none was more central than the Judaic truth that the quest for justice is the greatest of man's works, and the equally Judaic thought that his work never ends.
"And, indeed, I have observed under the sun: Alongside justice there is wickedness, alongside righteousness, there is wickedness." Hence, we learn of the inevitability of oppression, of evil. "The events that occur under the sun" God has brought to pass. "Even love! Even hate!"
"I realize," Ecclesiastes continues, "That whatever God has brought to pass will recur evermore . . . and God has brought it to pass that we revere Him."
I think especially of these words as I consider my years in the Senate with Jacob Javits. I was his junior colleague, and while we had known each other just under a third of a century as of Friday, he was in every sense my elder, and I would refer to him as "my revered senior colleague." A word to be used sparingly, and only for those whose lives reveal a reverence also, above all a reverence for life as God has given it to man: with all its testing and sorrow and appointed end.
He did not go gentle into that good night. Yea, he raged against the dying of the light and went luminously, gracefully; an example to the end. Others will now speak of the man they knew and loved. I take my leave. Jack: L'chaim.
About the Book
Eulogies of Famous People
by Ted Tobias
Published by Bushky Press
Distributed by Independent Publishers Group
ISBN 0-9711440-0-1, 8-1/2" x 11", 185 pages, $15.95)
- "A remarkable set of eulogies, notable for their intelligent and often witty content."
- -- The Daily Record
- "A fascinating look into what people say about others when they have departed this mortal coil."
- -- Nevada Herald
- "This volume belongs in the library of anyone who has ever been asked 'to say a few words'...or who cringes in horror at the thought of paying a call at the funeral home because 'I have nothing to say.'"
- -- The Titusville Herald
In 1968, Edward Kennedy read back the words of his dead brother, Robert, to a somber group of mourners: "Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not." The words of the eulogist capture a moment when the living begin to define the memory of one who has died.
When a famous person passes, millions watch on television to see who attends the funeral and what was said about the deceased. A portion of the test is often printed in newspapers the next day, but it is rarely accessible to readers and researchers later when the death is no longer a current event. The insights (and blind spots) of a eulogy are worth remembering for the honor they give to important figures and for the contribution they can make to our understanding of history. Excerpts are often used and/or repeated by speakers, clergy, and all of us in a variety of contexts.
In Tribute: Eulogies of Famous People presents for the first time a collection of 42 eulogies in their complete text. In most cases, the eulogies were given by men and women with famous reputations of their own. In Tribute offers a unique and illuminating opportunity to glimpse people in the context of their own times.
Three years in the compiling, Ted Tobias has collected the eulogies of political leaders, scientists, religious figures, entertainers, and athletes. Some of the combinations of the fallen and those who pay tribute are striking, such as Bill Clinton's eulogy of Richard Nixon, Bob Costas' tribute to Mickey Mantle, and Jordan's King Hussein memorializing Israel's Yitzhak Rabin. In Tribute precedes each eulogy with short biographical sketches of both the deceased and the eulogizer.
In Tribute is an important resource for writers, public speakers, clergy members, journalists, librarians, historians, and genealogists. This intriguing look at the moment of loss will touch all of us with what is most precious about life, and what is remembered most when a person has passed.
In Tribute is available through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble (bn.com), and other booksellers by special order, or directly from the publisher, Bushky Press. Please visit the web site to order a copy, to see a full list of who is included, or to suggest a eulogy for future editions of "In Tribute." You'll find the web site at:
About the Author
Born in New York City in 1932, Ted Tobias spent the first 28 years of his life in the South Bronx and the past forty years on the West Coast, primarily in Beverly Hills, California. He graduated from the City College of New York, uptown, and later spent two years in graduate social work study at Hunter College. To earn money for school, he sandwiched in a five-year stint as an NBC page.
On the West Coast, Tobias has been a successful entrepreneur, whose interests ranged from computer software development to television, stage, and motion picture production. He also operated a well-known seven-store retail chain dealing in art supplies and fine pens for over 30 years.
A widower since 1999, Tobias resides in Beverly Hills. He is currently writing a memoir of his happy marriage of 40 years and the three months of his wife's terminal illness. In Tribute II will be published later this year.
Copyright ©2002 by Ted Tobias. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free to duplicate and distribute this file as long as the contents are not changed and this copyright notice is intact. Thank you.