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Of all the aisles in the convention hall last night, there was only one jam packed, with hardly room to move at 7:30 mountain time.
In that moment the convention quite literally came to Mass, and the Mass delegation, as if hoping a little dust from the Kennedy mystic would rub off once more.
And it did, as the thousands of Kennedy signs passed out just moments before, all lifted skyward, as Sen. Kennedy came from behind the podium, to the cheers of Teddy, for the first loud, raucous delegate demonstration of the convention.
It had to be heartening and a bit melancholy for the delegates at the same time.
Heartening to know Kennedy felt well enough to make the 34 hundred mile round-trip from Boston to Denver, nothing could keep me away, he said, and you knew he meant it.
Melancholy, though, for the contrast we witnessed before us.
In the Ken Burns film that preceded his appearance, we saw one more time the younger Ted, fist pounding the podium, voice carrying as if it needed no sound system, delivering a speech in pursuit of universal health care.
Moments later in person, we witnessed today's Ted, the spirit intact, but the body suffering from the treatment for Cancer, walking a more slowly, more stooped, the voice no where near as strong.
It was as if the vision of his lifetime carried him to Denver, a vision of health care for all, the vision of affordable college education, the vision of an ended war, a statement from Kennedy that brought VP candidate Joe Biden, who was standing just a few feet from me, to his feet.
A vision Kennedy hopes to impart to Biden and Barack Obama,
And then there were those words that have punctuated, so many Kennedy speeches, "the torch has passed."
When Kennedy said them last night, you felt it, not only in his rousing endorsements of Barack Obama, but also in the way he leaned on niece Caroline as she walked him, arm in arm, from side to side on the stage, after he finished, as he waved to the still cheering crowd.
Love him or not, agree with him or not, and there are plenty on both sides, when it comes to this Kennedy, it would be hard not to admire his passion for the issues, a powerful passion that's moved this legend for decades, and still lights the eternal flame.
This is Bob Oakes in Denver.
This program aired on August 26, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.
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