Saturday, August 29, 2009

"The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."

I just watched Senator Ted Kennedy's funeral, which I found deeply moving. I have always been an admirer of this great senator, and I have come to believe, like many historians and politicians, that he is the greatest senator our country has ever known. Adversaries of Senator Kennedy like to focus on his personal failings of the past, his scandals, and on his progressive liberalism (as if that were a flaw). But the fact is that no one in the history of politics has ever worked harder to promote the cause of social justice, equal rights, and the problems of the common man than Ted Kennedy. And from the beginning of his tenure in public service, he fought for health care reform, as he saw health care as a fundamental right. This he called the cause of my life.

No one in the United States is untouched or unhelped by Ted Kennedy. His influence, his work for equality, and his passion for helping people can be felt in our everyday lives, and his impact on this nation is far more powerful than that of the brothers who overshadowed much of his life.

But the memorials and the funeral have also reinforced to us that he was the heart and soul of a prominent American family whose core value is service to country. Teddy became a father to the children of his brothers when they were killed, and he shouldered the problems that often come with his family's public life. Ted Kennedy was an amazing man, whose life epitomized perseverance and also redemption.

The most moving parts of the funeral were the tribute by his oldest son, Ted Jr., who poignantly spoke about losing his leg to cancer at age 12, and the comfort and the lessons that his fathered offered. And when the youngest generation of Kennedys offered prayers for the causes that Ted Kennedy championed (which may as well have been a list of my beliefs as well), I felt a combination of sadness and gratitude.

But most importantly, Ted Kennedy was a genius legislator, a true patriot, a fierce fighter for Americans. The country and the world are far better because Ted Kennedy lived, and we will never see his equal.

Rest in peace, Teddy, and thank you.


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