(February 22, 1932 – August 25, 2009)
Ted Kennedy loved politics and from his earliest days in Congress, he was a consummate politician who knew how to get things done in Washington. He was also a very wealthy man who knew very little about the actual lives of millions of educated middle class workers whose visa labor legislations he sponsored would adversely affect them. I've often wondered if he had ever predicted just how badly this legislation would eventually be for middle class Americans, or if he had been well, would have lived spending his time in the Senate working to reverse it. I guess we'll never know, but I'd like to believe if he were still around, he would have tried.
He's gone now, as his family mourns his life and their precious moments together along with his friends and millions of Americans who will never forget his dedication to rights issues affecting the poor and disenfranchised in this country.
Of his legacy, Ted Kennedy leaves a mixed bag. For all of his noble, sincere and valuable work in leading civil rights and human rights legislation along with supporting increases in minimum wage for the working poor, his major role in unfair labor practices against the U.S. educated American middle class was his only shortcoming. In his death, there are those who choose to condemn him with bad character labels for his tragic car accident in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. (The sad truth is that if anyone could suffer the “T” in human tragedy, it was the Kennedy family.) What kind of mean-spirited hypocrites are these people to live in glass houses and deem themselves above human failing and forgiveness in the face of some of life's worst human tribulations?
As in all of life's imperfect shadows, so does death lift them.
I'm going to miss this old fighting Irish guy, this “fiery liberal” in the Senate – this man who fiercely opposed discrimination with the big heart “of a lion.” When my grandmother in Ireland died, Teddy made a phone call for my aunt whom he knew in Massachusetts - her passport had expired but he got her on a flight out of Logan that evening. He did that good deed for my family, and in my family -- as is the Irish way – no kind deed goes unnoticed. And although his kind act cost him nothing, its merit demonstrated that good character when called upon, knows no price.
R.I.P., Ted Kennedy, and may God bless your family who will dearly miss you,