Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ted Kennedy's Funeral

I cried and smiled during Senator Edward Kennedy's funeral. The highlights were his son Ted, Jr.'s and President Obama's eulogies. In case you missed them, the complete text of President Obama's eulogy HERE. At the bottom of that page are videos of those and his other son Patrick's. When you click one of those, there are videos from the memorial service as well. More videos and coverage HERE.

This was the most moving funeral I've experienced in a long time. The Kennedy family is part of American history and almost like royalty to us in many ways. No one hedged or denied their flaws during the memorial service and funeral, but flawed people are compassionate when they learn from their mistakes. They aren't as likely to be smug and sanctimonious. Senator Kennedy's life is about redemption, service, and compassion. Carrying on through all the loss he experienced couldn't have been easy, but his life wasn't about easy.

As President Obama eulogized:
It is a string of events that would have broken a lesser man. And it would have been easy for Ted to let himself become bitter and hardened; to surrender to self-pity and regret; to retreat from public life and live out his years in peaceful quiet. No one would have blamed him for that.

But that was not Ted Kennedy. As he told us, "…[I]ndividual faults and frailties are no excuse to give in - and no exemption from the common obligation to give of ourselves." Indeed, Ted was the "Happy Warrior" that the poet William Wordsworth spoke of when he wrote:

As tempted more; more able to endure,
As more exposed to suffering and distress;
Thence, also, more alive to tenderness.

Through his own suffering, Ted Kennedy became more alive to the plight and suffering of others - the sick child who could not see a doctor; the young soldier sent to battle without armor; the citizen denied her rights because of what she looks like or who she loves or where she comes from. The landmark laws that he championed - the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, immigration reform, children's health care, the Family and Medical Leave Act - all have a running thread. Ted Kennedy's life's work was not to champion the causes of those with wealth or power or special connections. It was to give a voice to those who were not heard; to add a rung to the ladder of opportunity; to make real the dream of our founding. He was given the gift of time that his brothers were not, and he used that gift to touch as many lives and right as many wrongs as the years would allow.

The elder President Bush didn't attend the funeral because his son represented the family according to this statement. All the other former presidents were there.


Beth said...

It was indeed a very moving tribute. Interesting thing about redemption. So many of the religious right talk about how even the worst of humanity can achieve redemption if they ask for forgiveness...but many of those same people would be more than ready to pass judgement on Sen. Kennedy right now and send him on the swift elevator downstairs. I say that he achieved redemption. Hugs, Beth

Berry Blog said...

Actually there are a lot of fronts not really heard from for a man passing in the name of civil rights, according to the media. We have not heard from abroad anywhere.Nor particularly the Black community from their alleged leaders.
Mybe it tells us that he was for the average Joe right here in our own country where the credits don't come often enough.

Ms. Moon said...

A prophet in his own country...
I hope he rests in peace.

The Grandpa said...

Senator Kennedy's life is about redemption, service, and compassion.

You found his center.

mistress maddie said...

I thought it was a very lovely serivce for Ted Kennedy. And it was intresting to see the newer genaration of the Kennedy's, who are rarly seen.