Ted Kennedy died Tuesday night. He was 77. Kennedy served 46 years as the most well-known Democrat in the Senate, longer than all but two other Senators. His sister Jean Kennedy Smith is the only surviving sibling. Senator Kennedy left his mark on legislation and worked with others in both parties. He will definitely be missed. It's not going to be easy to find someone who can do what he's done.
The Kennedy family was sort of like royalty to us when JFK and Jackie were in the White House. They were young and glamorous. I was a senior in high school when he was elected and one of the many young people inspired by his inauguration speech. We'd never been asked to do something for our country and didn't know we could. He made us believe we could make a difference.
When President Kennedy was assassinated, we lost our innocence but not our idealism. His brother Robert took up the standard but was also killed. We mourned with the family as they experienced another tragedy. It was almost too much when John, Jr., his wife Carolyn, and her sister died in that plane crash. I was glad his mother wasn't alive to endure every parent's worst nightmare.
Through process of elimination, Ted became the patriarch of the Kennedys. There were more tragedies, scandals, and loss, but Ted eventually rose from the ashes of his flaws like a Phoenix and became a dedicated, hard-working legislator and negotiator. He, like other members of his family, is a champion of those who need a voice. He's been instrumental in writing and passing legislation for civil rights, education, reform, and much more. He was a Liberal in all the best aspects of that label. Senator Edward Kennedy has been a strong force. Others need to step up and carry on the fight and never allow the dream to die.