As many of you have already heard, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) has lost his battle with brain cancer. From the family 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," 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."
Here is a look around the horn at some reactions that describe Kennedy better than I could.
I saw Ted Kennedy once, when I was sitting in the Senate Chamber gallery. I was listening to the conversation below when the speaker announced that Senator Kennedy was to speak. All around me the tourists suddenly took interest and leaned to see the man. That is what fame looks like.
"Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy," Obama says in his statement. "For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts. I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've profited as President from his encouragement and wisdom."
"An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time." "And the Kennedy family has lost their patriarch, a tower of strength and support through good times and bad."
"Our hearts and prayers go out to them today--to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family."
In the coming days and weeks, much will be written about Senator Kennedy and his impact on our nation, our policies, and our government. As we wage a bitter fight over healthcare reform and brace for a potential battle over education reforms, we must not forget the lessons offered by Senator Ted Kennedy. Nothing took priority over country and an unwavering commitment to improve the quality of life for every American. No challenge was too large, whether it be healthcare, fair wages, or education. Success came from building bridges, working with individuals of all persuasions, political parties, and points of view. But true leaders also stand by their convictions, never wavering from their commitment and their own beliefs. It is important to hear others, but it is just as important to stand, unwavering, for what we believe in.
My heart goes out to the entire Kennedy clan. Here is hoping that his commitment to the people of Massachusetts and the United States is repaid in future efforts to improve the health, education, and welfare of every American.
Kennedy at the 2008 Democratic National Convention:
Above photo is courtesy of here.