Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sen. Ted Kennedy Has Died, Report News Outlets

I heard through email and have confirmed through both national and local news that Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, 77, beloved by many, scorned by some, has passed away. Called the "Lion of the Senate," Kennedy died this morning at his home in Hyannis Port, Mass. With reports since last year of his battle with cancer, a brain tumor, and the close scare he had during President Barack Obama's run for the White House, I guess I and everyone else should have expected this, but it still feels strange, like the last great giant from a family of giants is dead.

I had the opportunity to meet Sen. Kennedy in the spring of 2008 and wrote during his birthday celebration this March the following:
I was in a room with Sen. Kennedy about this time last year, close enough to touch him, with people who adore him. I applaud the senator for his work with healthcare reform, a subject on which I have strong feelings. His birthday seems like a sweet victory that even his opponents cheer ... Kennedy suffers from aggressive brain cancer. (WSATA 3/09)
I add this evening that even in ill health, he had a light and showed a love for people. Even while ill, he tried to ensure Massachusetts. would have representation in the event of his death by passing a law to have a temporary replacement in place. However, that did not come to fruition.

Not only was he a champion for health care reform, but also powerhouse on Civil Rights. In addition, he threw the Kennedy brand behind Barack Obama, endorsing him and persuading his family to do so.

From CNN, his family's statement and some background:
"We've lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever," a family statement said. "We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice."

Kennedy, nicknamed "Ted," was the younger brother of slain President John F. Kennedy and New York Sen. Robert Kennedy, who was gunned down while seeking the White House in 1968. However, his own presidential aspirations were hobbled by the controversy around a 1969 auto accident that left a young woman dead, and a 1980 primary challenge to then-President Jimmy Carter that ended in defeat.

But while the White House eluded his grasp, the longtime Massachusetts senator was considered one of the most effective legislators of the past few decades. Kennedy, who became known as the "Lion of the Senate," played major roles in passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, and was an outspoken liberal standard-bearer during a conservative-dominated era from the 1980s to the early 2000s.
Nancy Reagan ‘terribly saddened’
Former President Ronald Reagan's wife Nancy reacted to the news of Kennedy's death, saying:

"I was terribly saddened to hear of the death of Ted Kennedy tonight.

Given our political differences, people are sometimes surprised by how close Ronnie and I have been to the Kennedy family. But Ronnie and Ted could always find common ground, and they had great respect for one another.

In recent years, Ted and I found our common ground in stem cell research, and I considered him an ally and a dear friend. I will miss him.

My heart goes out to Vicki and the entire Kennedy family." (MSNBC)
MSNBC also has a presentation of Ted Kennedy over the years.

The front page of the New York Times had a subhead calling Sen. Kennedy "gifted and flawed." That is a true statement that is often applied to great men. Adam Clymer, his biographer, said he is the Kennedy we saw grow old and probably affected the lives of more Americans that either of his brothers. His death is being called "the end of an era."

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