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It's only golf

By David J. Cieslak
Arizona Summer Wildcat
July 21, 1999
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Arizona Summer Wildcat

David J. Cieslak

As a child, John F. Kennedy Jr. gave this country hope.

In the worst of times, after his father was brutally murdered, little John Jr. became a pillar of strength for a grieving nation.

Extending his arm and saluting his father's casket, Kennedy reminded Americans that the future is still promising and life remains precious.

His adulthood fulfilled that prophecy.

Perhaps that's why watching Dan Rather justify special CBS news coverage of Friday night's plane crash - that killed Kennedy, his wife and her sister - was so sickening.

At about 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Rather addressed CBS viewers, saying the golf tournament scheduled to air on the network was canceled.

He had to make it crystal clear so the armchair athletes could comprehend the statement - golf will not be seen later, the tournament has been scrapped from the schedule.

One could only imagine the volume of angry calls that poured into the CBS newsroom. Every bitter sports fan in America probably called CBS, screaming into the phone, begging for their precious tournament. God forbid they miss Tiger Woods' next putt.

The insensitivity is heart-wrenching. The inhumanity is repulsive.

People didn't seem to realize the mark Kennedy left on this country. An intelligent, decent man, John Jr. followed his father's legacy of leadership and his mother's charitable footsteps.

He protected New York's classic monuments from the claws of developers, gave hundreds of scholarships to destitute college students and started a foundation called Reaching Up, which helped disabled and poor people.

"John never sought public recognition for his hard work - in fact, he avoided it," a spokesman for Reaching Up told the Associated Press. "John F. Kennedy Jr. improved thousands of lives and his work will continue to benefit thousands more."

In his life, John F. Kennedy Jr. followed his heart.

He went to Brown University instead of his father's alma mater, Harvard.

Despite starting his career as an attorney, law got old and the thought of spending the rest of his life in New York's district attorney's office was unappealing.

So Kennedy cut his legal ties, instead deciding on a career in journalism. He started "George" Magazine, hired intelligent reporters and eloquent political columnists who made the magazine shine.

Every month, Kennedy came across with superior news and political coverage. He even hired former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato to scribe an advice column known as "Dear Alfonse."

He found his calling, and despite expectations, he built "George" into an exemplary publication.

He set an example for thousands of people.

He set an example for me.

Kennedy had a dream, and he lived it. He made me realize that my life is mine, regardless of others' expectations.

Perhaps that makes me biased when I condemn the golf hounds.

But the bias doesn't make the angry phone calls excusable.

And it most assuredly doesn't excuse the absence of their tears.