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.