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Letter: Waltzing with Eugene Kennedy

Regardless of the mean-spirited political campaigns this season, occasionally a delightful turn of events happens. Let me share one. When Eugene Kennedy stopped at The Master's coffee shop in Olivia on Oct. 18, his "mission" was political. Kenned...

Regardless of the mean-spirited political campaigns this season, occasionally a delightful turn of events happens. Let me share one.

When Eugene Kennedy stopped at The Master's coffee shop in Olivia on Oct. 18, his "mission" was political. Kennedy, age 80, is the father of Congressman Mark Kennedy, candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senator Mark Dayton.

The senior Kennedy was doing the obvious, pitching for his son. Only five of us "predictable Republicans" showed up and Kennedy said talking to us would be preaching to the choir. But he was intrigued by "all the action next door." When told this was the Christian Community Outreach Center were many Olivia youth gathered after school, Kennedy said, "Let's forget about politics. I want to meet these kids." (Kennedy has 11 grandchildren.)

And meet them he did. Virtually every youngster shook his hand, or even gave the elder Kennedy a hug. He truly beamed with this unexpected pleasure and even offered to play a couple of waltz songs. "We don't know how to dance a waltz," said one of the youngsters. "Then I'll teach you," said Kennedy.

Quite a scene, an 80-year-old father of a U.S. Congressman teaching an 8-year-old how to waltz. Kennedy's parting words to the youngsters were, "Remember here in America, we have something called democracy. Even though we don't like war, we have fought many battles to preserve democracy. But also remember that democracy gives your parents, and you too when you get to be 18, the right to vote for the people you wish to govern our country."

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Nary a word from the elder Kennedy about who to vote for. Instead simply a message to the kids on the importance of democracy. Even we five Republicans present were glad he ditched his political mission.

Dick Hagen

Olivia

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