Billie Silvey
3 Brothers & a Sister
An eclectic website about Women, Christianity, History,
Culture  and the Arts--and anything else that comes to mind.
God's Call to Service
October 2009
An American
They have been there all of my adult life--inspiring, scandalous,
legendary, challenging, disappointing, tragic, and so very public.  
Their lives couldn’t have been more different from mine.  They
were from the East Coast, Catholic, wealthy, famous, athletic,
beautiful.  Everything they did was writ large.

And yet, in a strange sense, they seemed almost part of the family.  Iâ
€™ve watched them, cared about them, suffered with them and
admired them more than any public figures I can recall.

John F. Kennedy was president when Frank and I married, and Iâ
€™ll never forget that November Friday, just three months later.  We
were living and going to school on the campus of Abilene Christian
College, and between work and classes, we seldom had time for
anything else.  But when I started across campus after lunch, I
immediately sensed that something was wrong.  The campus was
almost deserted, and the few students I saw were huddled around
radios or wandering around with grim expressions.

When I learned what had happened, I ran back home to tell Frank.  
President Kennedy had been assassinated!  It had happened to
Lincoln a century before.  It happened to leaders of unstable, poverty-
stricken countries in other parts of the world.  But in my lifetime? In
my country?  In my home state?

My stable life was shaken.  What would come next?  Revolution?  
Anarchy?  The swearing in of President Johnson and the orderly
transfer of power was reassuring, but my life would never be the

By 1968, we had moved to Los Angeles.  I was working at
Pepperdine and living in an apartment just off campus.  Frank was on
an aircraft carrier in the Gulf of Tonkin.  It was the year our County
Supervisor, Jimmy Hahn, was in the closest race of his career. I was
lying in bed listening to late election returns, mostly to find out how he
was doing, when the news broke.  Robert Kennedy had been shot at
the Ambassador Hotel!

Again, it seemed too close to home.  The silence was broken by
sirens.  Was it ambulances rushing to his aid?  Another race riot?  Or
just the usual crime in South Central L.A.?

Now, as we are growing old, the era of the Kennedys—that
generation, at least—has ended with the death of Teddy, the
youngest, most troubled of them all.  Still, it’s easy to see that heâ
€”and his sister Eunice Shriver who died just before him—
accomplished more than their more famous siblings. Partly because
they lived longer, but mostly because they dedicated themselves to
helping others, they gave the legacy of this remarkable American
family a special glow.

This issue of the website will include articles on one generation of
three brothers and a sister who changed our nation for
the better, on
giving back and on God's call to serve others.

I'd love to hear your reaction to the website—and to this remarkable
American family.  Just write me at
Giving Back