Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Edward Kennedy Passes...

I'm immensely saddened to hear of Ted Kennedy's passing. In his almost 50 years in the Senate he was responsible for much of the most progressive, pro-citizen legislation passed during his long tenure, including bills to provide health insurance for children of the working poor, the landmark 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, Meals on Wheels for the elderly, abortion clinic access, family leave, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Words fail me. While I have always and most-famously adored his brother Bobby, I can't even imagine the pressures on Ted to help raise multiple families (JFK's two and RFK's eleven, plus his own children) and go to work as diligently as he did for other Americans whose precariousness in life bothered him and motivated him.

I hope we'll pass a health care bill that bears his name and that he would wholeheartedly support and vote for. I know what's out there now is "not it," yet, but perhaps Senator Kennedy's passing will encourage all the people who loved him, of all political persuasions and leanings, to set aside their differences and find common ground so that many health care issues can be corrected and every American can feel secure that illness or disability will not bankrupt them.

I know Kennedy had his vitriolic enemies, but I hope it comforted him to know that people without enemies do nothing to either gain or lose approval. It takes guts to stake a claim on an ideal and course of action and make enemies for doing so.

I'm sure he'll be welcomed into heaven with the comment, "Well done!" Like all of us, he wasn't perfect -- far from it -- but he didn't let it stop him from making a huge difference in people's lives for the better.

I have a note that he and his wife Vicki sent me last year in response to an encouraging note I sent to them when I first heard of his diagnosis (identical to Mom's). It has been hanging here near my PC ever since, to remind me to pray daily for the family. Now I'll redouble my efforts, because although we have lost an effective, influential, legendary Senator, they have lost even more.

My heart goes out to all of Ted's survivors and friends.

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from President Obama:

Kristine --

Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy. For nearly five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well-being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts. His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives -- in seniors who know new dignity; in families that know new opportunity; in children who know education's promise; and in all who can pursue their dream in an America that is more equal and more just, including me. In the United States Senate, I can think of no one who engendered greater respect or affection from members of both sides of the aisle. His seriousness of purpose was perpetually matched by humility, warmth and good cheer. He battled passionately on the Senate floor for the causes that he held dear, and yet still maintained warm friendships across party lines. And that's one reason he became not only one of the greatest senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy. I personally valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've benefited as President from his encouragement and wisdom. His fight gave us the opportunity we were denied when his brothers John and Robert were taken from us: the blessing of time to say thank you and goodbye. The outpouring of love, gratitude and fond memories to which we've all borne witness is a testament to the way this singular figure in American history touched so many lives. For America, he was a defender of a dream. For his family, he was a guardian. Our hearts and prayers go out to them today -- to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family. Today, our country mourns. We say goodbye to a friend and a true leader who challenged us all to live out our noblest values. And we give thanks for his memory, which inspires us still.


President Barack Obama

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