Wednesday, August 26, 2009

We've Lost a Great Champion for the America That Could Have Been

Although I've only lived in Massachusetts for 23 years now, Ted Kennedy was my senator for much longer than that, since the things he cared about and fought for are the things my parents cared about, fought for, and taught their kids to care about -- peace, justice, and opportunity for all Americans.

This is from a post I made on Blue Mass Group in '06, after Senator Kennedy appeared at a Deval Patrick campaign event in Worcester:

Ted Kennedy is not so smooth in front of a crowd these days, but seeing him and hearing him reminded me [...] of his astonishing term of service to the country - the last twenty years of it as my senator -- spanning most of my lifetime, and characterized not only by loyalty to his constituency and his principles, but his ability to foster bipartisanship in getting things done.

I remember sitting with my parents in the gallery of the U.S. Senate in December 1963, the nation still in mourning over JFK's assassination. One after another, the senators gave tribute to the late president; finally, a very young Ted Kennedy - one year into his first term - rose to acknowledge the memorials and give his own. I wish I could remember even a little bit of what he said -- I was eight years old. I just remember the gravity of the moment, and how moved my parents were. As had many of their generation, they had heard JFK say "Ask not..." and taken it to heart.
He was flawed as a man, a husband, a candidate, and a leader, but not as a champion for all of us who are only human. His humanity, and the fact that he fought for the least of us despite coming from a privileged family, gave his idealism a veracity and power that were unique in my lifetime.

Thanks, Ted.