In the face of political censorship, one journalist put his career on the line to do what he felt was right, and paid a heavy price. This reporter was Ed Kennedy, and more than forty years after his death, his memoir, Ed Kennedy’s War: V-E Day, Censorship, and the Associated Press, has been released.
Julia Kennedy Cochran, Kennedy’s daughter, edited the book. Cochran, a Bend resident and ex-journalist herself, visited Central Oregon Community College on Nov. 13 to discuss her father’s life, as well as answer questions, share photos, and read stories from the book.
Though the memoir covers most of Kennedy’s career, including his 6 years as a World War II correspondent for the Associated Press, much of the attention is directed toward his decision, on May 7, 1945, to break the story of the German surrender of World War II, despite being told to keep it secret by the U.S Military for political reasons.
“(It was) the news for which the world was waiting,” wrote Kennedy in the book. “The people had a right to know.”
This decision ultimately cost Kennedy his job.
Amie Lee McGee, a journalism student at COCC, agrees with Kennedy’s feelings of free press. “I think it’s very important,” said McGee. “It’s the responsibility of the press to say what needs to be said, which is the truth.”
Earlier this year, President and CEO of the Associated Press Tom Curley apologized for firing Kennedy, and the news organization provided Kennedy’s daughter archival access to help tell her father’s story.
“My father never spoke to me about his war experience,” wrote Julia Kennedy Cochran in the book. “This project has given me a profound understanding of my father that I never had growing up.”
Cochran was eager to share that new understanding with students at COCC.
“She came to us,” said Karen Aylward, Director of the Nancy R. Chandler Visiting Scholar Program, who organized the presentation. “We try to bring people in that can give personal insight into the big picture that can strengthen students understanding of information.”
Amie Lee McGee found value in Kennedy’s story.
“He didn’t fear trouble,” said McGee. “It’s good to have confidence, even when your opinion is not the majority; it’s okay and necessary to express it.”
Ed Kennedy summed up his life philosophy in the final pages of the book.
“I don’t think there is much that an individual can do,” wrote Kennedy, “except to pursue his own work conscientiously, and give unflinching support to the conceptions of freedom and the dignity of man.”