The ‘Lion of the Senate” is dead. Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy lost his battle with brain cancer on Tuesday and died at 77. With his death, the country lost one of the most tireless and passionate voices for the poor and powerless in our nation.
I had the pleasure of meeting Kennedy many times through the years, starting when I was a page and then again when I ran as the youngest delegate candidate for the Democratic National Convention in 1980. I also served as his campaign coordinator for the birth district of Ronald Reagan in Galesburg, Illinois.
He was someone of tremendous privilege who became a voice for the underprivileged. He lived through unimaginable tragedies in his personal life, but remained famously optimistic about the future. His family issued the following statement: “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. 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.”
One of his most moving speeches came with one of his greatest tragedies: the murder of this brother Bobby:
For those of us on the 1980 campaign, the highlight was his 1980 convention speech:
His own words about his brother Bobby fit his own life all too well:
[He] need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.
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