Mary Jo Kopechne (1940 - 1969)
...was a schoolteacher, secretary, and political campaign worker, who was killed one night forty years ago, in an automobile accident on Chappaquiddick Island at Martha's Vineyard. The driver, a prominent United States senator, claimed to have made several attempts to save her, but did not report the accident until the next morning, when the car and the body were found. The senator pleaded guilty to "leaving the scene of an accident after causing injury." He received a two month suspended sentence. The Kopechne family has never commented publicly on the incident.
The senator went on to a distinguished career in politics, but for a failed attempt at nomination to run for the Presidency. He died early this morning, after a long battle with cancer. The woman who was never able to live as full or as long a life as he, and whose family received little if any justice, can finally rest in peace.
May God have mercy on that senator. May God have mercy on us all.
[POSTSCRIPT: At least one person of my acquaintance is saddened by today's news. In Washington, you meet all kinds of people, and those who are public figures cannot always be judged by their public legacy -- at least not up close. Some knew a man of uncommon generosity, both to his friends, and to those under whose careers he was a mentor. I was reminded of the latter by one from whom I heard today, a political operative who was helpful in my own career many years ago. I hadn't spoken to my old colleague in over ten years, and all of a sudden, there he was... My convictions remain as they are, yet I am reminded again, that only God knows, what only God knows.]