Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Kennedy Brother Who Died in Bed

At the age of twelve, he pestered his family to let him contribute to a memorial volume about his oldest brother, Joe, who had been lost in World War II. What Teddy Kennedy chose to remember was how, after hounding Joe into letting him crew in a sailboat race and failing to help him win, he found himself thrown into icy water, only to be lifted back up seconds later by his brother's strong arms.

That fierce Kennedy will to win, coupled with even fiercer family love, marked the life of the man who died today, the only one of four brothers to survive into old age and fulfill the promise of those other lives cut short by the violence of a world in which they never stopped competing.

Remembered by President Obama as "a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time," Edward Moore Kennedy, for those who lived through those times, is also proof that redemption is possible, that there are second and even third acts in American lives.

Expelled from Harvard for cheating, becoming a Senator at 30 through nepotism, being disgraced by Chappaquiddick, Ted Kennedy overcame all that and more to morph in his last years into "the lion of the Senate," fighting fiercely for the rights of those with less privileged lives than his own.

Ironically, he leaves this world in a time of debate over the value of preserving lives indefinitely as a reminder that there is no expiration date on the human spirit. Ted Kennedy won't be here to vote on health care reform, but he will have made a vital contribution to what he called "the cause of my life."


Holte Ender said...

An imperfect man, who could have left public life when, 1979, it was obvious he was never going to ascend to the presidency. He could have lived the quiet life of a very wealthy man. But he didn't, he worked for the causes that irritated his opponents and gave hope to millions.

Fuzzy Slippers said...


(well, except the Obama part, but that's my issue ;))