Yesterday was my 50th birthday, I did not meet it with the dread of turning 40, in fact I embraced it. I woke up looking forward to the day. I knew I was in for a teasing at work and Guy was going to take me out for dinner, we went to the Hotel B and had a great date.
I turned on MSNBC expecting to see Willie instead Morning Joe was already on and then I saw it on the top of the screen - Sen. Edward M. Kennedy 1932 - 2009. I dropped to the couch and my eyes started to tear and in just seconds I felt sadness, grief and a little disbelief. I knew it was coming, he did not attend Eunice's funeral, but like the death of anyone you admire, respect and has influenced your life, you are not quite ready for it. I was 3 when he entered the Senate and 4 when his brother the President was assassinated. I do not remember that day but I do remember running for a dish towel because my mother was crying so hard and I have flickering images of the days that followed
I was 8 when the other Senator Kennedy was assassinated and I remember every detail of those days. I became enthralled by politics during that year. I'm sure not many 8 year olds beg their parents to watch the political conventions. I am an age peer of the Senator's children, nieces and nephews. I grew up with them. When they suffered I suffered right with them. When they triumphed I triumphed with them. I am a child of the Camelot generation not just by my age but of my political beliefs. We are the last generation to be influenced by and understand the significance of the New Deal. My parents are a year younger than Senator Kennedy, children of the generation that came through the New Deal. They are the heirs of the greatest generation. Fortunately my parents chose to be followers of Camelot thus passing onto me and my siblings the sense of right and wrong that was personified by the good fights Senator Kennedy led.
Teddy and I have not always been on speaking terms. I am a Carterite, thus Teddy and I agreed to disagree from 1979 - 1981. We forgave each in time to unite for the next national elections. I have never looked back.
We are all aware that the Senator was a deeply flawed man but those flaws influenced who he was and making amends for those flaws pushed his passion to not leave the least of us behind. There will be plenty of time for us to discuss this but now is the time for remembering the strength, the compassion, the love of nation and the love of his family.
The greatest of all American political dynasties comes to us from a position of great wealth and privilege. The have been given much but what they have given this nation in return is even greater than 10 times their wealth. Three sons never had a chance to turn grey or live to see their promise come to fruition. The man we morn today took the legacy of not only his family but of his entire generation onto his broad Irish shoulders and fought the good fight for equal opportunity, for a cleaner world, for civil rights and civil liberties and for a better and stronger nation that truly would be the envy of the world. Ted Kennedy's name is attached to every major law that moved this nation forward for last half century
After John Kennedy died it was said "Johnny we hardly knew ye", we can't say that about Teddy. We actually knew too much but to those of us who loved him and viewed him as a leader for our cause we look past that and remember his great contributions to this greatest of nations.
I will miss you Edward Moore Kennedy and on behalf of a grateful nation I wish you God's speed and all the blessings of his creation.
Thank you Teddy!