News this morning of the death of Senator Edward Kennedy instantly brought tears to my eyes.
The reasons behind my emotional reaction are complicated, I know.
Living through the assassination of President John F. Kennedy here in Dallas affected my view of the entire Kennedy family.
Then, the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, when I was 18-years-old, moved me and my family deeply.
The passing last evening of Senator Kennedy completes a cycle of emotion, loss and celebration. His death is strangely personal for me and for millions of others, I expect.
I remember, as a young man, watching Ted Kennedy walking behind the funeral hearse that carried the body of his brother, Robert. I remember a much younger man standing with his older brother at the funeral of their brother, John. I remember the tears of my parents at the deaths of both of these American leaders.
Beyond those memories though, I'm moved by what Ted Kennedy worked so hard to accomplish and by the manner in which he worked.
My daughters and my granddaughter did and will benefit from the Title IX civil rights legislation that he worked hard to pass into law that equalized female participation in sports.
He passionately worked for the extension of civil rights in every direction--race, gender, sexual orientation, mental illness, special needs, immigrants and immigration.
His dying commitment envisioned health care benefits for every American.
Often referred to as the "Lion of the Senate," Ted Kennedy endeared himself to everyone by being a bridge builder and a masterful craftsman of workable coalitions. Even his most vociferous opponents regarded him with great respect and even love, as we are hearing now that he is gone. Senator John McCain's thoughts and recollections that I heard earlier this morning, exemplify the bi-partisan admiration that so many shared when it came to the Senator.
The closest I ever came to Senator Kennedy occurred here at Central Dallas Ministries. During a meeting of a national organization of foundations here in Dallas, the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, his sister, visited our Food Pantry. Her interest in the people of the community, in our work and in every individual she met amazed us all.
Her ability to focus on each person is something I'll not forget. I remember when the tour bus had to wait on her because she hadn't completed a conversation with a woman who had come seeking assistance for her family. I've thought of her and her visit since learning of her brother's death.
Beyond all of our political differences, Senator Kennedy's death, like that of his brothers and his sisters who preceded him, was a loss to us all.