Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Senator Ted Kennedy dies at 77

What an eventful morning already.....and it is just 5:22 AM as I start to type this. With Ramadan going on right now us Muslims wake up long before sunrise (the time for this morning was around 4:50 AM) and eat in the morning before fasting until sunset. Then I find out Senator Ted Kennedy has passed away.

Somehow today we all slept in. Somehow I missed all the text alerts that are piled up on my cell phone right now. Somehow I turned to the internet this early morning and just happened to catch a Tweet from Steve Brusk of CNN:

President Obama says "an important chapter in our history has come to an end" with the passing of Sen. Kennedy

It is an end of an era today. Since 1952 there has only been a short stretch for 2 years (1960 election until the special election in 1962) that did not have a Kennedy in the United States Senate.

The man was simply a legend. If the United States Senate had a 100 Ted Kennedy's this country would be a better place. His was a voice that held some major clout in the Senate. His was a voice that mattered. When he was giving a stopped and listened. When he endorsed Barack Obama about a year mattered. When he showed up at the Democratic Convention last mattered. The man just knew how to hold the crowd in the palm of his hands. He showed it over and over again. He spoke with passion....and his record in the United States Senate shows it.

His 3 older brothers all died at a really young age but the images we have of JFK and RFK are those of those 2 young charismatic men. We forget that if JFK was alive today he'd be 92 and if RFK was alive he'd be 84. Although not as famous as the his 3 younger brothers Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. was only 29 when he was killed. Ted was the only one of the 4 brothers to die of natural causes. Associated Press points out that there is only one living Kennedy sibling left.

"For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."

Who can ever forget his infamous speech from the 1980 Democratic Convention?

What happens to Health Care reform now? Did it die with him this morning or do the Democrats finally wake up and unite on this. His was a voice that really could have made a big difference in the months to come. He spoke about it at the DNC Convention last year:
But we have never lost our belief that we are all called to a better country and a newer world. And I pledge to you -- I pledge to you that I will be there next January on the floor of the United States Senate when we begin the great test.

Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.

For me this is a season of hope -- new hope for a justice and fair prosperity for the many, and not just for the few -- new hope.

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, old -- will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.

We can meet these challenges with Barack Obama. Yes, we can, and finally, yes, we will.

It should never be forgotten that Ted Kennedy was one of the voices who opposed the Iraq War in 2002.

Who picks up the torch on the Left?

Barack Obama released a statement early this morning. Reports had it that he was scheduled to meet with Ted Kennedy this week.

His impact was recognized around the world. Just this year it was announced that he would receive Honorary Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth.

A Statement from President Obama:

Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy.

For 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.

I 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 profited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.

An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time.

And the Kennedy family has lost their patriarch, a tower of strength and support through good times and bad.

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.

His death leaves the question....who will pick up the Kennedy family torch of public service? Some would say he himself passed the torch off to Barack Obama last year.

Yes I am aware of Chappaquiddick. But like millions of others I long ago decided that the 40 years in Senate after that paint a better a picture of what the man has done for this country.

Someone has to do him justice and give him a eulogy we'll remember years from. Whether it is Barack Obama or Caroline Kennedy...someone has to fill the shoe that unfortunately we've come to know "Uncle Teddy". He buried his brothers at a young age. He eulogized his mother. He's even eulogized nephews. Always with class, always with a speech worthy of the moment.

Ted Kennedy eulogies:
Jackie Kennady Onassis.
Robert F. Kennedy

The Dream Shall Never Die.

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