Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Edward M. Kennedy (1932-2009)

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.



Anonymous said...

I found myself experiencing unexpected feelings of sorrow throughout this morning. Tears came more than once.

I've heard the many clips of Kennedy throughout the day. My favorite is his eulogy for his brother Bobby. Here is how he ended it:

{My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.

Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.

As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:

"Some men see things as they are and say why.
I dream things that never were and say why not."}

You can listen to it at:

Randy Mayeux

julie said...

Larry, I did get to meet him twice and wrote about it on my I was so sad yesterday and still feel it today.

joel gonzalez said...

Can we bare another hit at our country I wish this guy never could die he was the best.

Joy Reed said...

I was sad to hear of his death. My condolences and prayers go out to his family.

Jimmy D. said...

Sorry to crash the party, but there's more to Uncle Ted than what's being said here.

Let the entire story about his life be told.

Lorlee said...

I lament the coarsening of the discourse, and the lack of understanding that we are all human beings and as such have faults and failings. We hope in the end that the good outweighs the bad. In my opinion, Sen. Kennedy's did.

Anonymous said...

Everyone who follows Jimmy D's link will arrive at a source that explains the attitude.

Anonymous said...

So, the objective is to discredit the source and not the FACTS? Elitism, disguised as compassion, at its' finest.

qb said...

Well, this one may be ever so slightly more credible, a devastating 1990 expose in GQ by Michael Kelly.

Until I read this, I had no idea how boorish Sen Kennedy really was!


Anonymous said...

Who among us can sit in judgment on the life--inner and outer--of anohter without being willing to put ourselves to the same test. The "net" of one's life and what it meant for others must be factored against the more unseemly realites present in all of our lives, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

Yes, the "net of one's life and what it meant for others must be factored against the more unseemly realites present in all of our lives"....

So, Mary Jo Kopechne's life was worth the net "good" Ted did? Unbelieveable.

Anonymous said...

Terrible circumstances, including awful and abject human and moral failure, often turn a spotlight on the quality of a person's courage and character, or the lack thereof. Kennedy was involved in a tragic mistake, an accident that likely his decisions caused. But, what would we have him do? Quit life? Resign as a hopeless failure? What would you do if you made such a mistake or cause such suffering?

No, Kennedy's subsequent life is a tribute to his strength and courage and faith. Lesser humans have simply disappeared. He never quit. He couldn't change the past, but he could work on making a better future. Sort of like King David in Bible times. . .how quickly our ideology permits us to forget the bigger picture of humanity and real life. Not everything is about politics.

Anonymous said...

Ted Kennedy, may he rest in peace. He was the Great Compromiser. He compromised his family his faith, and his country