By now, no doubt, you have heard that Senator Ted Kennedy died from the brain cancer with which he had been suffering for over a year now. Below is part of an article from the Boston Globe on Senator Kennedy's life and legacy:
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who carried aloft the torch of a Massachusetts dynasty and a liberal ideology to the citadel of Senate power, but whose personal and political failings may have prevented him from realizing the ultimate prize of the presidency, died at his home in Hyannis Port last night after a battle with brain cancer. He was 77.
“We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever,’’ his family said in a statement. “We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness, and opportunity for all. He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it. He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it’s hard to imagine any of them without him.’’
Overcoming a history of family tragedy, including the assassinations of a brother who was president and another who sought the presidency, Senator Kennedy seized the role of being a “Senate man.’’ He became a Democratic titan of Washington who fought for the less fortunate, who crafted unlikely deals with conservative Republicans, and who ceaselessly sought support for universal health coverage.
“Teddy,’’ as he was known to intimates, constituents, and even his fiercest enemies, was an unwavering symbol to the left and the right - the former for his unapologetic embrace of liberalism, and latter for his value as a political target. But with his fiery rhetoric, his distinctive Massachusetts accent, and his role as representative of one of the nation’s best-known political families, he was widely recognized as an American original. In the end, some of those who might have been his harshest political enemies, including former President George W. Bush, found ways to collaborate with the man who was called the “last lion’’ of the Senate.
Senator Kennedy’s White House aspirations may have been undercut by his actions on the night he drove off a bridge at Chappaquiddick Island in 1969 and failed to promptly report the accident in which Mary Jo Kopechne, who had worked for his brother Robert, died. When Kennedy nonetheless later sought to wrest the presidential nomination from an incumbent Democrat, Jimmy Carter, he failed. But that failure prompted him to reevaluate his place in history, and he dedicated himself to fulfilling his political agenda by other means, famously saying, “the dream shall never die.’’
He was the youngest child of a famous family, but his legacy derived from quiet subcommittee meetings, conference reports, and markup sessions. The result of his efforts meant hospital care for a grandmother, a federal loan for a working college student, or a better wage for a dishwasher.
“He died the way he lived,’’ said a longtime Kennedy staffer, who did not want to be named because of the sensitivity of the moment, breaking up with emotion during the interview. “Fully in the moment, with incredible courage. He knew exactly what was going on. He wasn’t afraid. And given everything that he had been through his entire life, was always optimistic and knew that this country’s best days always [were] ahead.’’
Plans have already been made for the funeral, which will take place in Massachusetts, the aide said, and President Obama would be expected to attend.
“Without question Senator Kennedy was the most accomplished and effective legislator for economic and social justice in the history of our country,’’ said Paul G. Kirk, Jr., a former Kennedy aide who is chairman of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. “He was the most thoughtful and genuinely considerate friend I have known.’’
“He taught us to persevere and carry on in the face of loss and adversity,’’ Kirk added. “And we owe it to him to do the same at this time.’’
There is much, much more to this article, along with a number of photographs, and links to other stories about Senator Kennedy. If you wish to read the rest of the article, please click HERE. For additional information, click HERE.
As someone who lived in MA for a while, I know how hard Kennedy worked for the Greater Good. Not all of the policies he championed were the best ("No Child Left Behind" comes to mind), but there were many that tried. He was not perfect, though, as we all know (and who is?). But he tried to do the right thing. Despite a massive disappointment with his decision in the 2008 Primary, out of respect for his passing and the good he accomplished, I will leave it for today.
My deepest sympathies to Ted Kennedy's family, who suffered another loss just last week with the passing of Eunice Kennedy Shriver. No matter how expected his death may have been, it is never easy. He will be missed.