Orrin Hatch and Ted Kennedy
I was especially moved this past weekend to hear Orrin Hatch (R-UT) speak at the funeral of Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy funeral as well as on NPR and on television about his close friendship. Orin Hatch was such a close friend and compatriot that upon hearing of his friend’s ultimately fatal illness, he wrote and dedicated a song to the Senator. Yet, Hatch and Kennedy were at times fierce rivals across the isle as well as allies in passing important and vital legislation. What struck me the most was the amount of respect and reverence that was felt between people of different political persuasions. Orin Hatch knows that one can be a Democrat and a true patriot and lover of this nation; something that I think unfortunately members of this church often forget. Seeing this funeral made me long, as President Obama expressed in his Eulogy, for a time when to disagree was not to disdain and when the senate was home to Lions such as Kennedy and Hatch that were willing to put America ahead of their political parties.
I also love how Kennedy, a recovering alcoholic Roman Catholic, and Hatch, a devout latter day saint. Were able to share elements of their faith and worldview while remaining respectful and loving. Hatch shared several stories relating to his faith that were amusing, touching and moving all at once.
“Hatch also loves to tell the story about how in Kennedy’s drinking days, Hatch once convinced a somewhat tipsy Kennedy to agree to speak to about 200 LDS missionaries.
Hatch said about 11 p.m. one night after Kennedy had several drinks, he remembers saying something like, “I have a favor to ask …”
“It’s done,” Kennedy immediately replied.
“Do you remember Frank Madsen, my old administrative aide?”
“Sure, sure. Great guy.”
“Well,” Hatch said, “he presides over 200 LDS missionaries in Boston that would like you to meet with them and me at a conference.”
“Well, they would also like you to arrange to have it in (historic) Faneuil Hall.”
“Done, no problem.”
He said the next day he quickly wrote up a detailed letter about what Kennedy had agreed to do. He said Kennedy’s hands shook when he read it, and Hatch realized Kennedy didn’t remember the promise.
“What else did I agree to?” he asked.
“Oh, this is just page one,” Hatch quipped, as Kennedy threw up his hands and walked away. But he did as agreed and met with the missionaries in Faneuil Hall.”
I love the humor and energy that was shared between these two giants of the senate. I am very pleased that Ted Kennedy would live up to his agreement and went on to speak to the Missionaries and deliver what Senator Hatch described as
“The tremendous altruistic talk that he gave to them on that day. Well, all I can say is it was really something. He didn’t try to weasel out of it. Instead, he produced the hall and he gave that beautiful speech. I was impressed as usual. And those missionaries will never forget that. And though they were of a different faith, he commended them for their willingness to serve a cause bigger than themselves and thanked them for their selflessness. This is just one example of the graciousness of my dear friend, Ted Kennedy”
Senator Hatch also shared a story that relates to the completion of the Boston Massachusetts LDS temple.
“There was another time when the Mormon church was nearing completion of its temple here in Boston. Belmont (ph), I think. I was approached by several people working in the temple and informed that the city would not allow a spire to be placed on the top of the temple with an angel on top of it as is customary on Mormon temples. I immediately called Ted and asked for help. Not long after that conversation, he called me back and said, “All of western Massachusetts will see the Angel Gabriel on the top of the Mormon temple. Though I was tempted to leave it alone, I had to inform Teddy it was actually the Angel Maroni, a prominent figure in the LDS faith. And at that point, Teddy replied, does this mean I’m going to get another book of Mormon for Christmas? Of course he did.”
I am brought a lot of joy by the fact that these two men were able to casually and even humorously share their faith. Both were able to find inspiration and meaning in the other’s faith. It is a moving tribute to interfaith relations and being a light unto the world.