Senator Edward Kennedy died last night at the age of 77.
"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," his family said.
It's been a tough few weeks for the Kennedy clan. The latest of Joe and Rose Kennedy's children to pass, Ted and his sister Eunice, who died less than a few weeks ago, leave a legacy of public service and political fortitude like no other family in political history.
At a time when health care is at the forefront of the President's political agenda, Ted Kennedy's passing calls to mind his efforts in the health care arena. His name adorns almost every piece of legislation for the advancement of health for Americans in the past five decades. There are those who now speculate what the impact of Sen. Kennedy's absence from the Senate floor will have on President Obama's health care proposals. A tireless advocate for civil rights and welfare rights, Senator Kennedy fought for the advancement of the people of America and his constituency.
Diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in May of 2008, Ted silenced the doctors and critics when her returned to work at the Senate not long after stringent radiation and chemotherapy treatments. He lived almost a year to the day of his address at the 2008 Democratic National Convention where he spoke of his ilness and Obama's message of hope. There was still work to be done, and as long as Teddy could handle it, he wanted to continue on with his life's work.
Ted Kennedy was certainly not without controversy. He took his Senate seat in 1962, a seat that was vacated by his brother John when he was elected to the higher office of the President, and never quite realized his own political goal of high office. The fate of Senator Kennedy and high office was pretty much sealed with the 1969 Chappaquiddick scandal. We may never know what truly happened in that auto accident that left a young woman dead, but Senator Kennedy was never able to truly atone politically for the tragedy.
As a Massachusetts resident, I cannot help but mourn the loss of our own son, public servant, and advocate of the people. I may not have agreed with his political agenda at times, but I recognize that today, the world has lost a great one. The last surviving son of a family of political giants, bred to wield the power of elected office. They say he was the last of the natural politicians. In this country, I would venture to say that the Kennedy family were the closest thing we had to royalty. To the people of this largely Irish-Catholic commonwealth, Ted Kennedy was our Elvis. He may not have been cannonized as a Saint, but we adored him and respected what he represented and from where he came.
The Lion may have been silenced, but the word passing around the internets today somehow sum up Senator Kennedy's legacy and how his voice will still be heard; "In lieu of flowers, pass health care."