Just short of half a century to the day when John F. Kennedy became the 35th President of the United States, his last remaining counselor, Ted Sorensen, passed away. He was 82. To be picked by President Kennedy, a man of great letters and literary appreciation himself, to be a speechwriter and advisor at a young age was high praise itself. But Ted Sorensen went on to give the young president and the world soaring prose that illuminated that presidency in a way that has been matched by no other since. He was a master of words — yes — but like all truly great speechwriters, he had a gift for understanding the innermost timeless yearnings of people for truth and justice, hope and opportunity, fairness and the freedom to accomplish. Mr. Sorensen knew, as well, that while ordinary people can do much, they can do even more with leaders who shine a beacon to point the way forward.
Neither his sense of optimism nor his capacity to craft thoughts that inspire dulled with time, as his concluding remarks in Counselor, one of his last books, eloquently testify:
I still believe that the mildest and most obscure of Americans can be rescued from oblivion by good luck, sudden changes in fortune, sudden encounters with heroes.
For the immortal words and ideas he created that became the gold standard for political eloquence half a century on, Ted Sorensen was one of our heroes. We will miss him.