Today, October 31, 2010, saw the passing of a great writer from the United States, Ted Sorensen. Throughout the 82 years that this man from Nebraska lived and worked, he contributed in significant and often historic ways to the craft of writing in the 20th century in the United States.
My professional life drew inspiration from the writer that Ted Sorensen was. Although I never met him, I find that I am saddened today that he is gone.
There will be many words written about Ted Sorensen by others great and famous. I only want to pay my sincere respects today to his family, and to urge other writers to remember this man and to study how he wrote.
I would select one especially important work of his as a starting point for such remembrances and studies of Ted Sorensen:
He made crucial contributions to the crafting of the 1961 inauguration speech by President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. That work—considered one of the greatest presidential inauguration speeches in American history—contained simple, yet commandingly powerful words that floated like magic into the air on that cold January day in Washington, DC. So it was that words from a speech were elevated in importance due to their clarity combined with pinpointed accuracy. So it was that we saw well chosen and skillfully delivered words morph into an iconic signpost for the Kennedy presidency and that long ago era of youthful optimism:
“Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.”