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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Senator Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy (1932 - 2009)

The third longest serving Senator in history Sen. Edward M Kennedy died in the early hours of August 26, 2009 peacefully at his home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. He was diagnosed with malignant brain cancer in May 2008.

He was one of the nine children of Joseph P Kennedy Sr. The eldest son Joseph P Kennedy Jr. whom the patriarch raised as a future President died during the Second World War. The second son John Fitzgerald Kennedy went on to become the 35th President of the USA in 1961. The third son Robert Francis Kennedy was assassinated in 1968 while campaigning for primaries. Edward Moore Kennedy, who managed JFK's Presidential campaign, became a senator in 1962 and at the time of death was the second longest serving Senator in the senate after Sen Robert Byrd and third longest in history.

He never reached the White House, absorbing a stinging defeat in his 1980 challenge to incumbent Jimmy Carter. Critics said he lacked his brother John's intellect and his brother Bobby's passion. link.

Critics say his image and reputation never recovered from the car accident at Chappaquiddick, in July 1969, where his companion Mary Jo Kopechne lost her life, for which he received a suspended sentence. This was at the height of Cold War and the barbs aimed at his judgment ensured failure at the presidential run.

Kennedy was at the center of the most important issues facing the nation for decades, and he did much to help shape them. A defender of the poor and politically disadvantaged, he set the standard for his party on health care, education, civil rights, campaign-finance reform and labor law. He also came to oppose the war in Vietnam, and, from the beginning, he was an outspoken opponent of the war in Iraq. link

Lately he missed three important events that led to speculation that he was in frail health. He missed sister Eunice Shriver's funeral, a White House Ceremony awarding him the nation;s highest civilian award, the Medal of Freedom and the confirmation vote for Sonia Sotomayor.

He was labelled The Lion of the Senate for his tireless work.

Kennedy was the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. Due to his long history of public service he became known as "The Lion of the Senate". More than 300 bills that Kennedy wrote have been enacted into law, and he is known for his ability to work with Republicans and to find compromises among Senate members with disparate views. Kennedy played a major role in passing many pieces of legislation that have affected the lives of all Americans, including the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the National Cancer Act of 1971, the Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments of 1974, the COBRA Act of 1985, the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Ryan White AIDS Care Act in 1990, the Civil Rights Act of 1991, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, the Mental Health Parity Act in 1996 and 2008, the State Children's Health Insurance Program in 1997, the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002, and the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in 2009. link

Senator Kennedy worked indefatigably for the causes he believed in. As the news of his death spreads, reactions from friends and political foes pour in praising him. Nancy Reagan released this statement, "Given our political differences, people are sometimes surprised by how close Ronnie and I have been to the Kennedy family. 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."

He will be missed but as he declared, “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die.”


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