Edward Kennedy, The Senate’s Last Lion, Is Dead At 77

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who represented Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate for 46 years and championed causes large and small, died at home in Hyannisport on Tuesday night, his family said in a statement. He was 77.

Kennedy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in May 2008 and lived months longer than doctors had predicted.

Kennedy won the seat that opened up when his brother, John F. Kennedy, became president. The senator was elected to eight full terms and was the second most senior member of the Senate.

Kennedy’s absence from Washington over the past few months had sparked concern. His top priority, “health care for all Americans,” is in what President Obama calls “a make or break period.”

Kennedy’s committee passed his version of a health reform bill in July, but it is not aligned with other versions of the bill in some key areas. Colleagues said they felt his absence daily as they worked toward a compromise.

Friends and aides say Kennedy continued working the phones, trying to help broker agreements on health reform.

In July, Newsweek magazine published an article written by Kennedy, making the case for health care reform. In it, he wrote:

For four decades I have carried this cause … from the floor of the United States Senate to every part of this country. It has never been merely a question of policy; it goes to the heart of my belief in a just society. Now the issue has more meaning for me–and more urgency–than ever before. But it’s always been deeply personal, because the importance of health care has been a recurrent lesson throughout most of my 77 years.

Kennedy had been harder to reach and engage in recent months. He continued to sail on his boat, the Mya, although he sat out a Nantucket Sound race that had been his Memorial Day pastime for years.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, speaks at the Democratic National Convention in the Staples Center in Los Angeles in August 2000. (AP)

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, speaks at the Democratic National Convention in the Staples Center in Los Angeles in August 2000. (AP)

At the time of his diagnosis, doctors said the average survival time for someone his age with an aggressive brain tumor was 15 months.

Kennedy made just a handful of public appearances on Capitol Hill after his cancer diagnosis. The Washington Post reported that he voted in just 11 of hundreds of roll calls since he fell ill. The senator cast his last vote in late April.

But Kennedy continued to work, often from his home in Hyannisport. The senator issued statements, including one on the passage of a bill he had worked on for years that would let the Food and Drug Administration regulate the tobacco industry.

Another signature Kennedy measure that would expand the federal hate crimes law is tied up on Capitol Hill. Through June, colleagues were saying the senator seemed determined to return to D.C. for the health reform debate.

Kennedy dropped most public speaking engagements after he fell ill. But he kept one particular date in Denver last August. Fighting kidney stones, the senator roused fellow Democrats at their national convention, as he confirmed his determination to pass a universal health care bill this year.

And this is the cause of my life, new hope, that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American, North, South, East, West, young and old will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.

Kennedy considered running for president several times and did challenge President Jimmy Carter in the 1980 Democratic primary but lost. Political analysts say he underestimated the degree to which Americans still questioned his character and judgment in the 1969 death of Mary Jo Kopechne. She was killed when the car she was riding in, driven by Kennedy, went off a bridge on Martha’s Vineyard in 1969.

Some Democrats blamed Kennedy for weakening the party in 1980 and contributing to Carter’s loss in the general election.

Kennedy continued in the Senate, where many observers say his work on health care, immigration, civil rights, and education made him one of the most effective senators in U.S. history and certainly in the history of Massachusetts.

Kennedy’s diagnosis in 2008 focused state leaders attention on how much they depend on Kennedy to protect the state’s interests in Washington. A special election, likely to be held early next year, would determine who Massachusetts turns to now that Kennedy is gone.

Kennedy is survived by his wife, Vicki, his former wife, Joan, his three children and his two stepchildren.

Kennedy leaves four grandchildren and 23 nieces and nephews, with many of whom he maintained close relationships. Of Kennedy’s eight siblings, Jean Kennedy Smith is the only living member of the generation that established the Kennedy dynasty.

WBUR’s Margaret Evans and Mark Navin contributed to this report.

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  • Irene Zamd

    First you are here, now you are not;
    You saw, you heard, you felt and touched,
    And in one breath, all you are is gone.
    You stopped to breathe, you are not here,
    You ceased to be, you don’t exist.
    But your soul, just like fine mist,
    Surrounds the air, day in – day out;
    You are not here, but yet… you are.
    Irene Zamd

  • Magali Olander

    At one time I had the idea to work in politics so when I had the opportunity to spend a college semester in Washington and hold a government internship, being from Massachusetts, I jumped at the opportunity to work for Senator Kennedy. I knew he was our “Great Senator,” but I didn’t really know why, until… I worked with so many people inspired by a man who fought so hard for the people who couldn’t fight for themselves. I heard with my own ears his thunder in defense of what seems so obviously (to me) the good fight. Whether health care, education, minimum wage, civil rights and on and on, he would stand on that Senate floor and without a care, boom about what was decent, what was humane, what was just, in my opinion, what was right. I was struck by a man who never had to work a day in his life, but who so valued public service that he would work for years, through so much personal tragedy that would send many running, and who did he work for? Not fellow rich people, fellow propped-up people, but for us average folks, and those less fortunate. My admiration of this ethic led me to ultimately become a social worker, where I practice with underprivileged children in Massachusetts. I have always credited my experience as an intern under TK with my choice. Ultimately, I wanted to do more direct service (than politics offers), but Edward M. Kennedy, thank you for being the Social Worker, not only the Lion, of the Senate. Thank you for all your service, passion, and willingness to go where not many people will, but where the most work is needed. In grateful remembrance, Magali.

  • S Gragg

    Yes, Kennedy is dead, and that is news.

    But it is not the only news. Can we please have at least one non Kennedy story during the rest of this month? I just did a count – the Times has 14 story links on the homepage, the 3 largest are Kennedy related. The Post has 16 story links, again, the 3 largest are Kennedy links. You have 18 story links, only 4 not a Kennedy story – and all through either NPR or BBC, and buried in the “nation and world” section!

    I know this is a parochial little town that doesn’t have many claims to fame, but you’re preaching to the choir here, and merely boring/annoying the non-native folks in your broadcast area. Yes, he was a big man, but get over it already. Reminds me of a movie quote “I’m a big man in Boston…but Boston’s a small town.” Your coverage merely supports the non-thinking rah-rah boosterisim in this town that has bugged me since I moved here three years ago.

    Please..God, just a couple of non Kennedy stories in the foreseeable future?!?

    Oh, and please no stories about how the gov needs to be able to appoint a Kennedy family member to fill the seat. You had a story a couple of months ago that treated the idea of succession as a matter of which Kennedy should follow Ted – his wife or his nephew. Whomever gets the job should be capable, not merely related. That ignorant boosterism only further marginalizes the state and continues to make MA more pathetic in the eyes of the rest of the nation.

  • Janice Wilson

    Over 30 years ago, when I was just 20, I met Sen. Kennedy….he was one of the three most kindest, grateful people I have ever met. I can smile through my tears today because I know he is an angel looking out for all of us.

  • http://www.goodworx.com/ Marcia Hutchinson

    I have no personal remembrance of Ted Kennedy. No meetings. No tales to tell. Just a lingering sense of loss today. I have always been proud– and fortunate– to have Senator Kennedy as my Senator. There is no one who can fill the vacuum that he leaves in public life. We are all now the poorer for his passing. Bless you, Senator Kennedy.

  • http://lazyjulie.blogspot.com Julie Baker

    Senator Kennedy devote his life to helping those less fortunate and to ensuring health care for all. I hope that he will be able to look down from heaven and see a sensible health insurance reform that includes a public option. Anything else would be shameful. I loved this video as an argument against the Republican fear-mongers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jng4TnKqy6A I’d like to think Ted Kennedy would have liked this video, too.

  • Alison Bloomquist-Jordan

    It is difficult to fight the good fight, to do the right thing when it is unpopular and difficult. It is even more difficult to do so without bitterness or frustration. Sen. Kennedy was the exception that proved the rule. He was enthusiastic and optimistic. Whether you agree with his politics or not, this is true: he was a courageous and happy warrior. A model of perseverance and commitment. He will be missed.

  • Ren Knopf

    To those who would nay-say our focus on Senator Kennedy, let me suggest they look beyond their own world. Ted Kennedy certainly did.
    Should they ever have the opportunity to walk the hallway of his home in Hyannis, perhaps they might understand his drive, his focus, his caring. Letters from presidents, prime ministers and mere mortals; from The Court at St. James to the White House, line the walls. Along with family artifacts and pictures, these framed testimonies speak to lifetimes of Kennedy service to our country.
    The United States is a better country with better conditions for that service. Not just Massachusetts or Boston or Hyannis is poorer for the passing of Edward Moore Kennedy, but rather this country – and I would argue, this planet.
    A voice for compassion and caring, for respect and betterment has been silenced. We all are poorer for that loss.

  • http://www.judydunn.net Judy Dunn

    My favorite senator has died.
    Senator Kennedy knew what he stood for. He was not afraid to stand up and speak for what he believed in. He was not afraid to be politically unpopular. But he also never forget his humanity, and behaved with courtesy and civility to those who opposed him. This is where his strength came from. It was not dishonest. It was fully authentic for him.
    We need more Ted Kennedy’s in Washington, D.C. I hope some are inspired to honor his legacy by aspiring to be more like him, rather than being known for having a quick retort for their opponents.

  • Mickey Coburn

    We have lost our Senator. We, the people. I take it personally. At a time when all my letters to representatives and senators — local and national– were ignored or rejected, a phone call from Senator Kennedy’s office asked me what we needed and how they could help and they did. He and his staff made it possible for one of my children to receive assistance otherwise denied. This help made it possible for her to pull her life together. This seems so small a thing; but all the great work he did began with many many small things. No one is indispensable; except some. My prayers for his family. My thanks to Senator Ted Kennedy. He was a true blessing.

  • G. Gonzalez

    Among the qualities I most respected about our late Senator is that he was always clear on where he stood on issues. Regardless of one’s political leanings, one could not acuse him of being vague about his convictions. That kind of courage is rare, indeed…He will be deeply missed.

  • Davida Dinerman

    My deepest sympathies to the Kennedy family. May you find comfort in the memories during this difficult time. I was never fortunate enough to meet Senator Kennedy, but I know he was the greatest, most courageous champion of the right causes, even to his dying day. I feel sad that many in the Kennedy family were taken from this Earth too early… before they were able to accomplish what they set out to do.

  • Mari McAvenia

    Senator Kennedy worked hard for his constituents.
    That’s a lot more than can be said for most politicians in power these days.

    Rest in Peace.
    Thank you.

  • Osman

    My condolences to the Kennedy family for their loss.

    I spent some of my early years in Massachusetts and have fond memories of her and her people from my Harvard days.

    Whether you agree with his politics or not, he was one of the endearing and enduring icons of the state – like Cape Cod, salt water taffy, baked scrod, Fenway or agressive left-turn drivers.

    I am saddened by his loss.

    I find it hard to imagine a Massachusetts without him.

  • Faiza

    Firstour hearts and prayers are with Ted Kennedy’s family

    In an era where American politics is even more partisan, divisive and uncivil than ever before, the loss of a uniting voice of reason is doubly tragic. If there were more like him in the Senate and House, the US would not still be discussing healthcare – it would have been enacted long ago and they would have moved on to other things.

  • Coleen O’Hanley

    Such a sense of loss today–a true champion not only of the people of Massachusetts, the people he spent his life serving, but of civil rights, access to healthcare, and equal opportunties for the people in this country, to name but a few of the causes dear to his heart. His family mourns a loved relative and a patriarch, but those of us who saw him as a treasure of the people will miss his leadership and tireless fight for what he thought was right.

    Some take this opportunity to say he was no saint–how many of us are?–and he did make errors in his life, to be sure. But he never shrank from his humanity and his call to public service, and carried on fighting for the people of Massachusetts and the United States, quite literally until the end.

    Condolences to the Kennedy family. We will miss him…indeed, we already do. It just won’t seem like Massachusetts without him.

  • Diane Levin

    This is a sad loss for Massachusetts and for our country. His commitment to public service was exemplary, he worked tirelessly on behalf of his constituents, and he had compassion for and an understanding of the challenges ordinary people face. But I particularly appreciated his ability to reach across the political aisle and form unlikely alliances to get bills enacted and the job done. We need more of that in Congress today.

    My thoughts go out to his family today, who have sustained a heart-breaking loss, particularly so soon after the passing of Eunice, his remarkable and determined sister. So very sad for everyone.

  • http://WBUR Colleen Haggerty

    I am sadden at the loss of Senator Kennedy, although I did not agree with him politically, I know he had an open mind to others points of view and I respected him for that. My prayers go out to the family that has endured so much tragedy. I am sure their faith in God will once more carry them thu.

  • jeffe

    “And, when he shall die,
    Take him and cut him out in little stars,
    And he will make the face of heaven so fine
    That all the world will be in love with night
    And pay no worship to the garish sun.”

    – William Shakespeare, “Romeo and Juliet”

  • Cecile M. Sullivan

    It is so hard to begin. Ted Kennedy has been a part of my life – I am a resident of West Hyannisport. The Kennedy family has been ever present on the waters of Lewis Bay and Nantucket Sound. The Senator and his family have always been comfortable to talk with and exchange neighborly greetings. He was always ready with a wave and a smile. His big turn around when he married Vicki gave him extra strength and determination to bring the best representation for the people of Massachusetts and the Nation. My prayers are for the Legislators to be inspired by his memory to drop the acrimonious and deliberate misinformation about the health care reform and pass a health care bill that will provide effective health care insurance for all Americans. It was the “life work” of Senator Kennedy. Where ever I have gone in my travels in the U.S. I was always astounded at the interest of people in the Kennedy Family and Senator Kennedy. His influence was felt world wide. He will be missed personally, nationally and internationally.

  • Rob Zeleniak

    As a child living in the North Jersey suburbs, my mom took my sister and I to NYC to see President Kennedy’s motorcade. It was in that exciting moment my lifelong admiration for the Kennedy family was forged. Now, as a constituent of Senator Kennedy for the past 25 years, I cannot find the words to express how saddened I am at the loss of a man who was always there for us. The Senator will be greatly missed, but always remembered.

  • Danby Whitmore

    Senator Kennedy was a true liberal in the true sense of the word. He did what he knew was the right thing to do. He reached out helped those in need when he became aware of their need. He was a truly decent human being.

  • Jan Krause Greene

    I first met Ted Kennedy when I was a high school student working in Robert Kennedy’s office on Capitol Hill. What I saw at that time was the affection between the two brothers, including some practical jokes they played on each other. I met him again at at St. Patrick’s Day parade in Boston in 1967. When NCLB was unveiled, I spoke with him about the possible negative impact of the bill, while working as a consultant for the Worcester Public Schools.
    In every encounter, he was gracious. When talking policy, he actually listened. When “accused” of being a liberal, he proudly claimed the label. I will always respect him for sticking to his ideals and for working to improve the lives of all people in this country. He was not a puppet of big business, nor did he give up his principles when it came to the vote on the invasion of Iraq.
    Yes, he had his flaws, but in his public life, he was an effective servant of the people. In his personal life, he endured many profoundly tragic losses. As the mother of 5 sons, I can not imagine how my youngest son would survive if he lost his older brothers to assassinations. Ted Kennedy rose above his grief, beyond his anger, and through the political morass to try to make this world a better place. He will be deeply missed.

  • Tracey Betts Sarefield

    Growing up in Ohio, with “Kennedy Democrat” parents, I was so excited to move to MA for my husbands new job at FSC in 2007. One of the first things I did was send Senator Kennedy an email letting him know we were excited to have him as our senator. I loved getting emails from “Senator Kennedy” and would forward them to my parents. When he was diagnosed with cancer, my 3 year old daughter drew a picture of a sail boat for him and we mailed it off. She received a reply very quickly and felt very special that someone so important would send her mail.

  • barbara e. johnson

    Two years ago, Christmas, Kennedy helped our daughter. She was living and working in Australia but desperately wanted to share her family and home with her serious boyfriend, who had tried, unsuccessfully, to get a visa to visit our family for two years. It is a long, painstaking story, but suffice to say that the American Consulate in Melbourne was unfair and unreasonable in their denials. I appealed to Senator Kennedy’s office to assist in this young man’s visit to our family for Christmas for two weeks. In a pressured deadline, Kennedy came through with support for this situation in one day. It was amazing and heartwarming to be responded to with such immediacy and competency. My 93 yr. old father, a staunch Republican his entire life, thereafter ceased making Kennedy ‘liberalism remarks’ and admired Kennedy’s follow-through for the common citizen of Massachusetts. My daughter’s boyfriend’s family in Australia, regained better feelings about the U.S. after Kennedy’s rescue, whom they now greatly admire, as they had been outraged that their college graduate son, working at a good job in Australia, had been previously barred from a visit to the U.S. Finally, my husband and I are eternally grateful to Ted Kennedy for his unceasing work to improve the lives of everyone. He was a true hero and rolemodelled courage and vision.

  • Kevin Traina PA-C

    I am only one of the masses who silently mourn today. However we can take solace his legacy and that of his family lives on and we all now must pick up the torch he so valiantly carried for us all. The dream lives on.

  • Roxann Wedegartner

    As a Texan who made Massachusetts my true home more than 30 years ago, it has always been my greatest pleasure to be able to vote for Ted Kennedy and call him “my Senator”. But there could be no greater tribute than this one that I received today from an friend in Texas, “As a TWAS (Texan Without A Senator), I will miss him very much. Most on the right profess patriotism and, in fact, think little of our constitutional democracy. They demean it every day. They can’t say enough how much they hate our government especially when it produces justice, mercy and broad participation in the democratic process. Kennedy honored his country and loved it in all its most important aspects: its constitutional basis, its compassionate people, and the land we built it on. He was my Senator. Bailey and Cornyn have never been available to carry my mail to the centers of power. Ted Kennedy was there to do in their stead. Roxann, thanks for lending me your Senator.”
    Your welcome, Tom

  • Eileen Freiberg-Dale

    I recently read The Last Lion, which added greatly to my knowledge of Senator Kennedy as an imperfect but courageous, compassionate, determined human being and congressman. I am so deeply saddened by his loss, and frightened about the gap it creates. He is irreplaceable! But I hope some will try to emulate his caring about health care reform and justice for all. He wanted to see health care reform pass, and I hope his wisdom, and his relationships with others in the senate, will only further motivate President Obama and his democratic and reasonable republicans to push forward. Sen. Kennedy deserves this legacy, and all of us deserve more affordable health care.

  • Sheila Sinclair

    Listening to the young man who is so unforgiving about Ted Kennedy’s faults and grave failures, I can only ask “What of redemption?” Senator Kennedy’s life was not without flaws, but it was, in a sense, exemplary. He stumbled many times, but he continued to strive and in the end he rendered a great service to his country.

  • http://BlueDogLeather.com Richard K. LaRiviere

    Aside from the fact that Ted Kennedy was an able, dedicated and hard-working senator for nearly 46 years, I’ll remember him for his compassion. When my youngest brother, Steven, was killed in the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, Ted Kennedy picked up the phone and called my parents to offer his condolence. It wasn’t “Please hold for Senator Kennedy”, it was “Hello, this is Ted Kennedy, may I please speak to Mr. or Mrs. LaRiviere.” Certainly the man was not without faults, but I’m satisfied that he more than made up for his mistakes and failings. Massachusetts, the Senate and the United States are poorer after this loss.

  • Suzanne Langevin

    I was deeply saddened to hear the news of Sen. Kennedy’s passing this morning. As a social worker, I mourn the loss of a great champion of the underprivledged, of those who lost their voice today when Sen. Kennedy fell silent. As a resident of Massachusetts, I mourn the loss of the greatest political figure in our state, and the center of our own “royal family.” And simply as a person, I mourn the loss of a great person, who by the accounts of all who knew him, was a man of conviction and passion.

    My own personal rememberance of Sen. Kennedy is from the memorial service for the six Worcester firefighters killed in the Cold Storage fire in 1999. As a close friend of the family of one of the fallen, it was a day of great personal sadness for me, and for the whole community of Worcester. The words from Sen. Kennedy provided the greatest comfort to me on that day. He truly understood the grief of losing a loved one in the line of public service, and his example of strength and perserverance helped carry me through, to be a good friend to my loved ones who were in such pain.

    Requiem aeternum, Senator. My prayers are in thanks for the end of your suffering, and for comfort for a world that’s mourning your loss. Words can’t say how you’ll be missed.

  • C.Belleau

    I always felt safe knowing Ted Kennedy was my Senator. I knew he could be counted on to protect the less fortunate, the environment, and the best interests of MA and the country. Hearing him speak with a voice of reason and humanity gave me hope that the common good would prevail and that ridiculous fear mongering could be silenced. Whoever replaces him will have big shoes to fill; and I hope that like him, they can work with others to find solutions that help us all. His voice will be missed.

  • J.G. Schwam

    In this age of big money interests, PACS and big lobbies there were no others like Ted Kennedy. Every day Ted stood and fought for what is right and true for all Americans, sometimes alone, not just those that can afford to pay to play. He meant what he said and said what meant, not just when it was popular but always when it was simply right. His legacy will live on. His intractable soul and his heart which was big enough all of America will live in my memory forever.

  • Stephanie Phipps-Sterner

    I found out about 10 years ago that Ted and I were related – he is my second cousin once removed. His mother was my grandmother’s first cousin and when my grandmother died, Rose and two of the daughters attended her wake (1955). However, my father was a staunch Republican. My mother was a Swedish immigrant and according to her the Catholic girls in Manchester NH (the dominant ethnic group being Canadian French) didn’t treat the Swedish girls very nicely.

    Anyway, my mother never mentioned the famous relatives, my father never acknowledged it but my older sister knew and had always assumed that I knew. She mentioned it casually 10 years ago but said, “I don’t tell anyone”. I on the other hand, tell everyone I can, casually working it into the conversation :). I think it is hysterical that I am a distant relative but my side looks down on that connection! I can tell you it helped me with my Irish in-laws!

    Anyway, my mother, Ruby Olga at 84 with significant memory problems (couldn’t remember names for example), asked me, “how is your cousin” while in a nursing home for a few days as her house had no electricity during the ice storm last December. I was totally confused as I have no 1st cousins and then she said the one with brain cancer.

    This was the only acknowledgement that I ever received that Ted was my cousin (yes, 2nd cousin-once removed :)).

    Family was still family as far as my mother was concerned and she was a voting dem most of her life though for some reason she liked McCain this last time. She had COPD and CHF and died 6 days after this conversation, back in her own home. Though ill herself, she thought of Ted and his illness and included him in our family. I will always remember this conversation.

    He was loved by many and he will be dearly missed.

  • http://WBUR Marsha Bird

    As a Massachusetts resident, I am profoundly saddened by Sentator Kennedy’s passing. My clearest memory of the Senator was an interview he did with Tim Russert on Meet the Press. Russert asked him why he voted against going to war in Iraq and the Senator said simply that he had read all of the intelligence reports and determined that there was no basis for this action. It was a simple, truthful statement. Russert then asked why other Democrats had not read the reports and again the Senator said he did not know. This is when I knew the Commonwealth had a great Senator. One who was caring, thoughtful and committed to the public good. We will all miss him.

  • Ethan J. Hawkes

    Senator Ted Kennedy fought unyieldingly from his position for the betterment of all American citizens, with no issue effecting people more fundamentally than the definition of healthcare as a basic human right, rather than a priviledge enjoyed by some but denied to others. As he demonstrated in bouncing back with resolve from repeated family tragedy, may we as Americans find the inner strength to transcend political divisions and actualize the dream of affordable healthcare for all.

  • Cam

    I am young, only a college student, but still have kept myself well versed in matters political in Massachusetts. Ted Kennedy’s willingness to truly listen to colleagues is only out shined by his resiliency and courage. Some say that his past mars his great legislative accomplishments, but to me, an inexperienced and still learning youth, Ted’s ability to come back and truly reform himself inspire me greatly. Some day I hope to be filled with half of the passion that Ted had for his fellow man.

  • Patrick Sullivan

    The Kennedy family was part of our lives since I was a little child some fifty years ago. What I most remember was Teddy’s ability to overcome great tragedy and his own flaws to produce both great legislation and to personally care for so many constituents here in the bay state. I feel an era is passing, a loss in my life that I will never forget. Thank you Senator Kennedy for all you have done, and my condolences and best wishes to the Kennedy family. We have lost a great man, but more than that we have lost a beacon of hope. That being said his legacy will live on and hope that others will pick up the mantle in time.

  • Anne Levy

    Since 2005, Massachusetts has been my home, all the more so a home because of Ted Kennedy’s powerful, generous, intelligent presence in the Senate. Thank you, Senator Kennedy, for your unflagging service, your impressive knowledge, and your intense humanity. How we will miss you. Some of Robert Frost’s lines mournfully echo in my head, from his poem “The Oven Bird”: “The question that he frames in all but words/ Is what to make of a diminished thing.” America and the U.S. Senate are diminished by your death, but we know not to forget your own words and will do our best to make sure that the dream will never die.

  • marilyn bemtov

    Ever since it became obvious that Senator Kennedy’s lifegoal, universaL health care,was clearly not to be, I have prayed that a health care bill with some real, if small, impact, would be passed before Senator Kennedy left us. I wanted his goal to be accomplished so that he might leave us feeling blessed in having advanced the cause of a fundamental right to health care, to fundamental justice in our America. My heartbreak today over his loss is that he didn’t live to see such a bill passed.

    Moses was taken just as the Promised Land was in sight. So President Obama is now our Joshua, who, the Bible tells us, had to fight long and hard to achieve God’s promise. His army was commanded to fight fair and clean. And the tribes he led had a ways to go to become a unified nation.

    I wish that this biblical metaphor could motivate and strengthen President Obama to step forward and become a warrior in the cause of his supporter and mentor. If he does not, then Senator Kennedy’s death is a bookend to the progress towards a just society largely writ large in the legislative legacy of Senator Kennedy.

    On the personal side, I’ve always been slightly astonished that my letters to Senator Kennedy on political issue have been answered point for point, with a closing sentence offering to help were I ever in need, and signed “Warmly.” In this, as representatives of the people go, he was unique.

    Yesterday I had the good fortune of being granted an interview with Congressman Barney Frank to present my views and personal information on Medicare and the health care bill. He listened carefully and told me I had made incisive use of my time, informing him on matters he would bring back to the discussion in congress–in short, he had new and significant information to carry forward the goal set by Senator Kennedy. That I accomplished that much is the only small consolation I feel today.

    Edward Kennedy was not only one of the greatest senators in U.S. history. His is a great life story that ranks among the first in “profiles in courage.”

  • Lois Denneno

    Ted Kennedy is not only a Massachusetts icon, he is an example of hope and redemption for humanity. Some of his past deeds are not exactly something to be proud of. Yet despite or perhaps more likely because of his past misdeeds he exhibited the compassion and wisdom of one who knows and not only accepts but cherishes the vulnerability of the human condition. Furthermore he has done more for the people than his often self-righteous detractors.

  • http://wbur.org Stacy Amaral

    In 1965 I was a student in DC, living with a group of friends down the block from the Kennedy’s in Georgetown. As we sat on our stoop in the evenings Ted (as we were later asked to call him)would walk by on his way home. One night I was dared to go up to his door and invite him to come down and hang out with us. I went, knocked and he answered, “Sorry” he said “but I’m watching the kids”. “I’ll be by another day.” And he did.

  • Delia Donatelli

    Senator Kennedy became a rarity in government, a true statesman. After he lost the nomination for president in 1980, he set ego aside and devoted himself to serving the common people. He empathized with the needs and challenges of the common people and strived to make government acknowledge its responsibility to serve all the people, not just the wealthy and influential corporate elite. He was unique; though enjoying some of the privileges of wealth, he sincerely believed that this privilege also came with the responsibility to serve those less fortunate. He continually fought to ensure that social needs were balanced with, and not sacrificed to, corporate interests, whose wealth and influence ensure that this struggle can never be completely resolved but must be continually fought. His passing leaves a vacuum that likely may never be filled, for few have the courage and the will to continue the struggle, and even fewer are in a position to do so.

  • louise Bowler

    The United States has indeed lost a man who is advocate of all. The best way to memoralize Ted Kennedy will be to not only pass a health care bill but to Name it the Ted Kennedy Health Care Bill. Granted, he would not put his name on a bill, but I believe this is the one way to truly honor a great statesman.

  • Susan Hammond

    In 1995 the Center for Women & Enterprise (www.cweonline.org) opened in part due to the support of Senator Kennedy. And so hundreds of women wanting to open a business have been served ever since. Thank you Senator for believing in all those dreams.

  • emma

    For me and many of my friends who were born and raised in Massachusetts but currently live far way we found ourselves reaching out to each other and to folks back home today as we worked through the unique feelings of loss for those of us from our great commonwealth. For us whose entire lives have been lived while Teddy was a senator he took on the role of a constant. Regardless of if we agreed with every vote made or every cause he supported he was there standing up for us. He was always there just as it will be muddy in March, the apples will come in September, the water off the cape will always be colder then we remember it and Teddy will be our senator. It makes any homesickness we feel even stronger because when we go home it wont be the quite the same.
    Hugs and love to the whole commonwealth and the Kennedy family in particular. From those of us far away.

  • Emily Taylor

    Three years ago, duuring my first year teaching kindergarten in Boston, I came across a cd in my school’s library of Senator Kennedy reading “Make Way for Ducklings”. When I brought this into my classroom, my students were mesmerized. His reading, combined with orchestral arrangement was their top pick during rest time and other quite times during the day. I soon received many late notices from the librarian, because the students refused to let me return it. While these students may not know how much their lives will be influenced by what Senator Kennedy lived for, they certainly appreciated him in their own way.

  • dody riggs

    I think of Sen. Kennedy’s life as a tale of redemption.

    In the decades since Chappaquiddick–certainly his lowest moment–I have grown to love and admire Ted–I feel that behind all his tireless efforts for the common man is a desire to make up for his errors, his terrible errors. In looking at Senator Kenendy’s life story, we can learn many important lessons, among them the need to forgive. I hope that Ted had forgiven himself. My condolences to his family; may the Senator truly rest in peace.

  • Rod Daynes

    Like all above, I mourn the death of this great statesman. Given the extremely partisan nation in which now live, I can only hope that those mean-spirited ideologues (hypocrites) on the right, who are openly celebrating his passing, will dare to look in the mirror and see themselves for how small they really are by comparison, and just shut up.

  • http://www.accurate-mortgage.com DJ Shah

    No amount of consolation can make up for our loss.
    We all can only celebrate our living with him during his leadership. All individual soul including our own is visiting us for a reason. We all move on to newer life after that. Here is a verse from ‘Bhagvad Gita’ a Hindu holy scripture…
    Na jayate mriyate va kadacin
    nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah
    Ajo nityah sasvato ‘yam purano
    na hanyate hanyamane sarire

    For the soul there is never birth Nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not dead when the body is dead. (BG2.20)
    I am sure Ted Kennedy is surviving in our thoughts, values, memories and his happy legacy that changed our life so far and will keep changing ever after. His aura would transform many many young leaders yet to come. Aura of a great leader is eternal and for ever.

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