Legendary Senator Ted Kennedy passed away last night, leaving behind millions of people whose lives he deeply affected, both through personal relationships and his tireless legislative work on behalf behalf everything from civil rights, gender equality and educational justice to labor, immigration and health care reform.
Share your memories in the form below, whether a personal interaction, a historic moment or a bill that had a special impact on your life. We'll be reading through them and uploading your tributes to this page throughout the day. Click here to tell your story.
Mary Tewhey from Cary, IL:
Richard Schmidt from Port Isabel, TX:
He showed anyone could pick themselves up after a fall from grace and become a truly great human being as well as an inspiration to all. What a great man! Thoughts & prayers with his family. Thanks for never giving up!
In 1965, I was sitting at a special premier of "The Sound of Music" in Boston. I turned to my right, and there sitting on the other side of the isle, was Ted Kennedy. After the movie, I asked him to sign a fund raising book I had designed for the Democratic State Committee, and he so gracefully did. Several days after Chappaquiddick, I was devastated and lost all faith in our man Ted, not just because of the dreadful accident, but because he handed away the standard of liberalism. But since our society is so magnanimous and we have forgiven so many on either side of the aisle, it was time for me to join, so this morning I asked God for the repose of the soul of Edward M Kennedy.
Leslie Mills from Menlo Park, CA:
All of the Kennedys affected my life, although we lost John and Robert far too soon. Teddy, as I recall, was in the plane accident in which he broke his back, and it was on my 14th birthday; I remembering crying, as I thought he was going to die. I had loved the Kennedys from about 5th grade on, and always remained their most ardent admirers. There are no others in public service whom I admire more than this family who have had to face more trials and tribulations than most people in a lifetime.
All of the Kennedy brothers were eloquent, true to their beliefs, honestly cared about the common man and this country, and were generous with their money as far as causes and contributions. Instead of being focused only on their families, the Kennedys were honestly concerned about this country and the people.Ted, in particular, was the greatest senator this country has ever seen, and I just mentioned the other day that I could not think of one single politician that I admire and care about more than Ted Kennedy. While he made mistakes, it really makes no difference; everyone has as no one is perfect. He was essentially a good man who fought for the downtrodden, the poor, those discriminated against, etc., and he was honestly the most concerned about how everyday people have been affected by the government, the economy, the politics. I believe he would have made an extraordinary president.
I will miss Teddy for the rest of my life--and miss him. I have no other person in politics to look up to anymore. There is no other as eloquent, as dignified, as dedicated, as Ted Kennedy was. May he rest in peace, be with the rest of his family who have already gone on ahead of him, and may his family here on earth be blessed for the rest of their lives. No more tragedies for the Kennedys; they have had more than their share. My prayers are with them, and I will continue to remember the Kennedy brothers as fondly and as lovingly as I did when I was in grade school--over 50 years ago.
James Dubro from Toronto, Canada:
I first met Teddy Kennedy in 1962 when I was 15 and was growing up on Beacon Hill. Teddy was running for his brother's open Senate seat. I was standing outside Kennedy's headquarters on Bolyston Street across from the Boston Commons (where I always played as a youth) saying loudly to my buddy, another 15- year-old boy, that Kennedy's only qualification for being senator was being the brother of the President. My friend kicked me and I looked up to see Teddy Kennedy smiling down at us. He was polite, introduced himself to us and went in. I never knew if he heard my disparaging saucy remarks, but assumed he was just being gracious and politic.
In any case, after he was elected senator I used to deliver drug store items to his elegant home on Louisburg Square. Often Teddy greeted me in his pajamas. Funny enough he never gave me a tip, though he was always good-natured and friendly. His wife Joan, who often answered the door in her negligee, always gave me a dollar tip. And curious as I was, I never looked in the bags to see what drugs the Kennedy's were taking.
Nancy Jones from Seattle, WA:
My husband was a policeman in the 1960s when Ted came to Seattle to speak at the Olympic Hotel. My husband was picked to stay with him until he left Seattle. Ted was downstairs eating at the hotel and sent my husband a steak dinner to the room. He was a good and kind man-- when he returned home he sent us the nicest letter thanking my husband for his help. This family will miss him greatly.
Bonnie McCarthy from Verona, NJ:
I was attending a Democratic fundraiser at the Jersey Shore and was worried about coming up with something to say. As I waited in line to shake Kennedy's hand I remembered that I had seen him on TV playing tennis the day before. So when he shook my hand I said "I like your back hand" and he said "Why thank you very much" with that teethy smile we all love. A gracious man who who made everyone feel important. Today I am disabled with MS and look to the future with hope not fear.
Mary Bartholomay from Palo Alto, CA:
In 1972, I was helping my sister who was running the local McGovern campaign, for which Ted Kennedy was doing a series of whistle stops throughout the Bay Area. At a rally at a shopping mall, the throngs of people surged right past the roped-off area where Senator Kennedy was standing: hundreds of hands of every color reaching out for handshakes. For the briefest moment ,even though the Secret Service was everywhere, a look of abject terror went over the Senator's face was like nothing I had ever seen before. And then he joyously sped forward to be amongst his fellow citizens. I mention this because although we all call him 'Lion' I think we forget the immense amount of personal courage it must have taken to take to continue in public life, to be outspoken, to speak to truth to power, in the face of such horrific memories and such depth of sorrow.
President and CEO of America for the Arts, Robert L. Lynch from Washington, DC, tells of Kennedy's impact on the keeping the arts alive:
Senator Edward M. Kennedy was a titan for the arts. Ever since the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts was opened as a living memorial to the late president, and Senator Kennedy has carried forth the arts and humanities legacy that his brother began. He powerfully advocated the need to nurture creativity and to broaden access to artistic excellence in the U.S. Senate, and his leadership extended to co-founding and co-chairing the Senate Arts Caucus.
Throughout his work, he carried strong messages of freedom of expression, tolerance, and creative rights. He spoke staunchly of the central role of the federal government in supporting American cultural life, inspiring bipartisan cooperation among his colleagues. Each year for Arts Advocacy Day, he welcomed a small group of our advocates to his hideaway office on Capitol Hill and hosted a lunch that brought us together with Congressional leaders. One year he even met up with us on the steps of Capitol Hill, enthusiastically joining in as Peter Yarrow led a rousing sing-a-long on behalf of the arts.
I've had the personal pleasure of working with Senator Kennedy on federal arts issues on a number of occasions, and as a native of Massachusetts and longtime admirer, let me say how deeply his warmth, humor, empathy, and fierce passion will be missed.
Bennet Kelley from Santa Monica, CA:
I got into politics because of the Kennedys and volunteered on his 1980 campaign. I remember him as a fighter who made a difference. He also was an Irishman who could tell a good story or joke. I was at a debate watch party for the last Bush-Kerry debate that he was at and Bush kept attacking Kerry as the conservative Senator from Mass forcing Teddy to stand up and say "I'm sorry, I didn't know I was so conservative".
Elizabeth M. Brooks from Medford, OR:
I was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts but moved to Bozeman, MT and most recently to Medford, OR. When I first moved to Montana, I still had my Massachusetts license plate. At the time, I did not realize that most of MT was solidly Republican and therefore I was became the designated spokesperson defending Ted to the incessant question of "Did you vote for Ted Kennedy?" I was always so proud to say of course I did, then the conversation would begin with a barrage of sometimes insults or right wing vignettes about Ted's life, his brothers exploits with Marilyn etc. I would then explain to them the many things Ted had done for Massachusetts and the country as a whole ... I never got tired of defending a liberal point of view no matter how tiresome the tirade became.
I will miss him dearly, God speed Mr. Kennedy. Your picture will always be slightly above the pope's in my childhood memories of my home in Cambridge, MA
Guy Lange from Key Largo, FL remembers his encounters with Kennedy:
There are 2 times that I had personal contact with the greatest Senator ever. The first was during the American Friends Service Committee war protest march in 1972 that followed the "Christmas bombings" of Hanoi. He was one of the few members of Congress who agreed to meet with any protesters. Sixty of us were crowded into his office sitting on the floor squashed in like sardines. When he entered, his personal magnetism flooded the room and the only sound you could hear was his easy jocular voice with a quick quip about the seating arrangements. His first concern was our comfort, whether we would rather move to a larger room or not, to which we responded with a vociferous no. We probably should have taken up his offer because he spoke for nearly thirty minutes then asked us questions and thoughtfully listened to the courageous few who spoke. He didn't look for an excuse to leave but waited until all was said that was needed. He graciously thanked us all for coming and shook as many hands as possible as we paraded out the door. The grumbling mob of us that had entered the room left transformed into giddy schoolchildren.
The second time was via the mail. When I was discharged from the Navy nine years later they made a mistake and shortchanged me about $600 on my final paycheck which included travel expenses. The Navy claimed that I had taken 2 weeks leave that was erroneously not recorded. In face, during that time I was to sea manning port and starboard navigation watches (6 on 6 off plus regular working hours i.e., 20 hours per day for a week and a half straight.) I did have proof but they wouldn't give in. My congressman tried to help but got nowhere. My letter to Senator Kennedy, however, did the trick and his personal note in reply, thanking me for my service and apologizing on behalf of the United States Government, was handwritten and acknowledged my good conduct award.
While it is true that most politicians have this same gracious manner when in close contact with constituents few, in my opinion, accomplish the feat with the ease that "Teddy" did it was always clear that it was never an act and it gave credence to the occasional expressions of ire directed at his foes.
I deeply regret his loss, for his family and the nation. Having very recently lost my own father at age eighty-seven, the sole remaining member of his generation, I understand the emptiness that results.
Peter Slutsky from Washington, DC:
Late last night, America lost Sen. Edward Moore Kennedy.
I hardly ever wake up during the night, but last night I woke up at about 2:30am and read the news on my Blackberry. I couldn't get back to sleep - my head was reeling with personal memories, as well as the sheer impact that Sen. Kennedy's loss will have on the country and the world.
However, at about 3:30am, I slowly drifted back to sleep, contemplating Teddy Kennedy's epic role in American society and picturing the scene up in Hyannis Port, his family gathered around him, saying their final goodbyes. Then, I began to think past the earth...
Whether you believe in heaven or not, there is something really comforting about the thought of Teddy, Jack and Bobby sitting on a cloud, carefree, somewhere in the heavens, sipping on a cold summer drink. Those three have a lot to catch up on...
Rest in peace, Teddy Kennedy.
Skip & Kathy Bourque from Westminter, MA:
I contacted Senator Kennedy's office to ask if it was possible for my wife Kathy and I to get tickets to the first Kennedy/Romney Debate at Faneuil Hall in Boston during October 1994 for five Russian police officers who were visiting Massachusetts as participants in a two-way exchange program.
A few days later, I received a reply that no tickets to the debate at Faneuil Hall were available, but complimentary tickets to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum at Columbia Point would be waiting for us there on the date of the debate.
When my wife and I arrived with our Russian guests, we were greeted by the library director who to our great surprise explained that Senator Kennedy had been preparing for the debate in the family's private room on the 7th floor and waited for us to arrive as long as he could before he had to leave for Faneuil Hall.
The library director gave all of us a private tour that ended on the 7th floor at two large double oak doors, and while unlocking these doors he smiled and said to the Russian translator in our group, "The Senator said that to tell you that you might be interested to know that the only other Russian that was invited to enter was a fellow name Mikhail Gorbachev."
It will suffice to say that 'Ted' was a great man and a regular guy!
Toni Zy from Los Angeles, CA:
I never met him in person but as a child in school I could remember my history nun speaking about health care and how Senator Kennedy had dedicated his life to helping the little people and making a universal health care plan for everyone.
He was a man who wore his heart on his sleeve and believed that he could make this world a more compassionate place. He was born to wealth but he step into the real world and made changes and wanted to continue to make changes. He was a great person and he met and overcame challenges and his life is an example for all of us to try to do unselfishly the necessary callings.
Marc Owensby from Potomac, MD:
In 1980, when Ted was running for the Presidency I attended a political meeting (one of my first, I was 18). The guest was the famous economist John Kenneth Galbraith who had served as an advisor to John Kennedy and Ambassador to India. He also advised many later Democratic Presidents.
Galbraith had a fun little line about the Kennedys that he used that evening, and I often think of it whenever I see Ted on TV. It went something like this: "When John was President, I had to call him up to tell him what to do. Bobby was a little smarter, he would call me and ask me what to do. Ted, he just knows what to do."
God's speed Ted. You'll be missed. There aren't many people left who know what to do.
Geraldine Bolter from Wasilla, AK:
At 65, my Kennedy memories go back into the years - I studied the Nixon/JFK candidacy in 1960 in high school. Senator Kennedy has always held a warm spot in my heart as he represented possibilities. He showed himself as a man of growth, as he floundered on the shoals of poor decisions. Very human. Very real. But, he kept growing and evolving. He stands as a beacon to all of us who have regrets but want to grow. He's the embodiment of the Imperfect Man who becomes the Pathfinder. Lead the way, Teddy, I'll find you on the other side.
Miles Zaremski from Highland Park, IL:
Ted Kennedy was a mountain of a man. I was asked to represent him, and others from Congress, as friends of the court in two cases before the United States Supreme Court. These cases had to do with managed care entities "hiding" behind the federal ERISA law in order to pre-empt state laws exposing them to liability for decisions they made regarding the care and treatment of patients. I worked through one of his main stalwarts, Jeffrey Teitz on the Health, Education and Labor Subcommittee, and teamed up with an attorney from the Department of Labor. Kennedy was determined to be an advocate for those less fortunate and who had to fight the big health care entities that sought to limit their exposure to claims even from decisions they instructed doctors to carry out. We need all learn from his passion, drive and motivation when we hear today that a public health care insurance option is no good since it will get in the way of our relationships with our doctors. Kennedy knew when I wrote the brief for him back then that private companies do precisely what opponents of real reform claim should not be done today. We will all miss him, but he knows we will not let his vision and passion be in vain. Rest well Senator.
Steve Saetre from Bayfield, WU:
We the people are the ones that Sen.Kennedy served. He leaves us having lived a full life. His warm smile, laughter and great speeches will live on in my memories of him. I recall receiving a full letter from him in the mid-70's while I was in high school debate club seeking information on health care reform back then. And here we are today. The very health of people was his concern. May meaningful reform on it be passed by Congress soon. His cause, concerns, cares, hopes and dreams are now ares to live out. May he rest in peace. And may the world live anew in peace. Teddy, you never grew "old"!
Linda Lee from San Francisco, CA:
I first saw Sen. Kennedy at the 1960 convention in LA. I was 15 and my Dad took me to the convention on one of the lesser nights - a Tuesday or Wednesday. Bobby and Teddy were down working the convention floor and even in that swirling mass of people they stood out. That night lit the fires of a lifelong passion for politics.
Tyiesha Mayberry from Cleveland, OH:
I was born years after the Kennedy brothers died and the events always seemed so distant to me--almost as if they happened a hundred years ago. When I read that young Ted insisted on toasting his oldest brother who had been killed in the war, the Kennedy family became real to me and I realized not just what we lost as a nation, but that a little boy had lost his brother.
Observing the Kennedys influenced my political viewpoint. Here we have a family who is steeped in generations of wealth, privilege and power and yet they work tirelessly on behalf of people who less fortunate. They seem to understand that they are servants of the public and not czars.
RIP, Ted Kennedy and long live the Kennedy family. May they always have a seat at the table of American politics.
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A Childhood meeting with Kennedy share by Kenny Smith from Salisbury, MA:
When I was in junior high, a group of students took a trip to DC. The highlight of our trip was meeting our Senator, Ted Kennedy. There were more than 30 of us and he took the time to speak with each and every one of us. I remember him asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and when I told him I wanted to play right field for the Red Sox he let out his loud booming laugh and said, "That's great we could use a good one." My grandmother campaigned for him and he remembered her name. I'll never forget that day and the kindness in his eyes. He was a champion for those without a voice and while I hope it's not true, I doubt we will ever see his like again.
Raymond Gellner from Charlotte, NC:
I was born in 1968, so consequently Ted Kennedy was my link to the Kennedy legacy. It always encouraged me that a family like the Kennedys, though always financially well off, would champion the causes of everyday citizens.
Ted Kennedy spent his life in his role as Senator doing this and more. He truly made a positive difference in this world. I cannot imagine where this country would be without his input in so many items of legislation which helped to protect ordinary citizens from corporations and other powerful interests.
Most assuredly, Ted Kennedy, though battered through tragedy and loss, always stood back up and worked towards the betterment of humanity. I do not know of a more noble struggle.
When I face life's difficulties, it is such an example which helps me through them.
Thank you, Senator.
Ron Morrison from Glendale, AZ:
I was a volunteer for Bobbie Kennedy in California in 1968. I was devastated by his death and I took great comfort in the eulogy given by Ted at his funeral. It has always been in my memory and I have a recording of it that I occasionally listen to. This Country has lost a great man and a great leader. I pray that we can pass a meaningful health care bill in his memory. It would be entirely appropriate.
My condolences to his family and to the Senate, who has lost their Lion.
Mike Faucher from North Reading, MA:
My favorite, and I feel lucky to be able to relay this, was my conversation with him about 12 years ago when I was working as a reporter for the Lowell Sun (Ma) newspaper and the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge on the Concord and Sudbury rivers was threatened by losing government funding and encroachment by local businesses and homes.
Though it was a "fluff" piece as we called them for the paper, I was told- since I was the only Saturday reporter on duty that day- that I was going to interview Ted from his home in Hyannis Port, because he had fought all year to restore funding and keep it on the list of National Parks.
See up until then, the most influential people I'd interviewed were cops at an accident scene or a teacher who ran a camp in the woods for inner city kids. Worthy gigs, but they didn't hold the gravitas Uncle Ted held.
I had about 10 minutes before the call, scribbled some ridiculous questions down ("So, what draws people to meadows?" "Have you been to been to Great Meadows?" <--- that one I actually used....) and told myself to keep my composure.
"Mike, line two- Senator Kennedy."
"Senator Kennedy, how are you today?"
"Oh, just fine Mike. How are things in Lowell today?"
"Not too bad, Sir. Not bad. I want to thank you for talking to me today about--"
"Yeah, the Great Meadows Refuge. Beautiful spot. You see, Mike, I think that without... (and the interview commenced).
When I asked him if he'd been there-even though he'd already alluded to having been- he said "many, many times. I have a good friend that lives nearby and we sometimes take morning walks through there." Of course he had been there! Of COURSE he had a friend that lived nearby, he had friends in every corner of the state! I felt like a jackass!
But he quickly changed course and began to ask me about myself.
"How long have you been a reporter, Mike?" Dammit! He sensed I was a chump, a greenhorn... what the hell was he doing talking to me, anyway?
"Almost a year now...."
"And where did you grow up?"
"Dracut, just over the river."
"Ah yes, do you know (I forget the name he asked me)?"
"I don't think so Sir, but the name sounds familiar."
"Well, Mike, I know Lowell and Dracut have their own state park. Have you ever been?"
And that's how it went for another five minutes or so. We chatted. We joked. Simple conversation, simple jokes, but during it all, I realized I wasn't nervous anymore- he said my name probably 15 times and made me feel like I was the only person he had on his agenda that day. When we said goodbye it was "Nice talking with you, Mike and good luck at The Sun."
"Thank you for your time, Senator and I'm really not supposed to do this, but it's been a honor speaking with you and I admire all you've done for our state".
"It's a living, Mike."
Pete Subkoviak from Chicago, IL:
I was 10 years old when I met Ted Kennedy. I had no idea who he was, being more concerned with football, cartoons and the like.
It was 1992, and my parents, aunt, uncle and cousin were in D.C. on vacation. We were in the Capitol, totally lost, when my uncle spotted Ted. He walked up to him and asked for directions, and the man could not have been nicer. He chatted with us and took pictures (which I still have today), then he offered to let us watch senate debates which only family and friends of the senators were allowed to do. We weren't from Massachusetts, he wasn't trying to get a vote, he was just being nice.
I wish I was a bit older so I could have realized what a great person I was meeting. Today I'm 27 and work in public policy on health care issues. Guess it rubbed off on me.
Nate Binzen from Beacon, NY:
In 1998, I started an internship in the newsroom at WBUR (NPR radio) in Boston. Much of my job was to conduct quick phone interviews from which soundbites would be sliced (literally - that was the tail end of the era of reel-to-reel tape in the newsroom) for broadcast on the evening local news breaks. In my first week, they sent me out to find Ted Kennedy at an appearance at a nearby hospital to get his comments about precipitous events in Kosovo - my first in-person interview.
I found him in a ward of mentally disabled young people, interacting with several of them in the kindest, most naturally connected one-on-one fashion imaginable. He lingered for quite a while - this seemed to matter to him, and the handlers were making space for it. I remember him looking right in the eye of a kid while talking to him with a smile, looking for signals in return that he could respond to. (It was only later that I learned about the lobotomy that permanently disabled his sister Rosemary, and I took this knowledge as an insight into the motivation behind his gentle, focused attention that day.)
Eventually, he moved on out. There was no other media there that day, I had him to myself, and, first time out of the gate, I was very jittery. I wasn't sure I even knew how to operate the tape recorder properly, let alone get my questions out. All of a sudden I was in an elevator with Senator Kennedy and a couple of aides and hospital staffers. Small talk. And when we emerged, it was in a hallway surrounded a knot of interested onlookers that we sat down for the interview. I was trying to keep my voice steady as I asked my two questions (the second one was about health care legislation he was sponsoring). At some point I looked down at his shoes, and they were so unspecial - worn out black work shoes - that I got the jolt I needed: yes, he's a celebrity, a powerful politician, a symbol, but... he's just a guy! With cruddy shoes! On some level we are equals; he's not so difficult to relate to. And of course, he knew the drill - ten well-stated seconds were all I needed - so he did my job for me.
I've found all such encounters far easier since that day. But there was something more important that I learned from Ted Kennedy. That day, I felt out of place in the room with severely disabled teenagers, let alone with the senator among them - but he showed me a way of openness, genuineness, and real care.
Milton Bluehouse, Jr. in Santa Fe, NM:
I have, along with hundreds of thousands of Native American students, befitted from the late Sentor Kennedy's work on improving Native American Education. Nearly four decades ago Senaotr Kennedy chaired a special Senate subcommittee on Indian Education, and developed for Congress the report, "Indian Education a National Tragedy, a National Challenge," which helped to create the National Indian Education Association, and later, tribal self-determination of Indian education and tribal colleges.
Many thousands of Native Americans are better today because of Senator Kennedy's work. God bless his soul and comfort his family. We will miss you dearly Ted.
Katherine Sonar in Chicago, IL:
Kimberly Hawk from Maple Valley, WA shares in verse:
I interned in the Senator's Boston office in 1997 while I was a college student. While I didn't work with him closely, he was always very friendly with all of the young people who ran his office. He was at the same time a force of nature and just a nice man. I've always admired him immensely for all his work for the disadvantaged and his family's work for the disabled that benefitted so many, including my own sister's involvement in the Special Olympics and Best Buddies. He was a complicated and yet a simple man. We will likely never see his kind again. May he rest in peace.
After his partner died on September 11, Tim heard from Senator Kennedy, who was the only politician who reached out to him.
The histories talked of
Joe Jr., Jack, and Bobby--
they received the glory
But you were the Lucky One
You got to live,
You got to grow old,
You got to see how they
Changed the world
When we speak of you,
And we will,
We will remember you as
The Lion that Lived...
Ken Fink in Florida was ever grateful for Kennedy:
I was, and am, so grateful for his gesture of kindness. While others expected me to justify my relationship to another man, Senator Kennedy understood and accepted our bond without question or judgment. In my moment of horrible pain he reached out in a way no one else did. Coming from someone who knew what it was to suffer huge loss it was particularly meaningful. I am eternally grateful for that. May he stand as the very embodiment of good governance. He was an exceptional human and a great leader.
I often told my girlfriend/partner, an oncology nurse, that each night when we slept, it was a comfort to know that Ted Kennedy was tirelessly working to protect and advance the interests of every day Americans. He was our champion.
Diana Dascalu-Joffe and her family were rescued and given asylum in the US thanks to the Senator.
Kennedy helped to sponsor my family to come the United States in 1981 from a dangerous communist dictatorship. My parents brought me to Washington, DC when I was two years old to meet with Kennedy. We have pictures of me sitting in his office chair and he said that some day, I will be a Senator making a difference in the US. I am now in DC as an advocate for the environment. I could not have done what I have done and been who I am if it was not for the courage of Sen. Ted Kennedy. Thank you for your service to this country and for saving my family from a horrible situation. You will be missed.
John Doddridge from San Jacinto, CA:
I'll always remember Ted Kennedy for helping end the draft in the early 70s. As someone the Nixon draft board was looking forward to soon drafting, the legislation came at just the right time. Learning more about Ted back then made me become a lifelong supporter of "the good fight" as he used to say. God bless you, Ted Kennedy, for making such important contributions to the nation and people you so loved.
Laine Doss from Miami Beach, FL:
I grew up with the Kennedys. I was born in the late 60's - during the turmoil of Bobby Kennedy's assassination, war protests and the wonders of space rockets and men on the moon. I think that everyone in NYC is a bit of a political wonk, but I surpassed my parents and everyone in the neighborhood.
I remember taking my father's JFK memorial record of his speeches and listening to them over and over. I remember at the age of 9 having my parents drive me to Manhattan to stuff envelopes for Jimmy Carter's campaign - the littlest volunteer (but I was taken seriously and allowed to help every Sunday). I remember getting my first cassette tape recorder - a red panasonic - and making a parody of Richard Nixon getting implummed and impolkadotted instead of impeached. But most of all, I remember the Kennedys.
I remember looking at this family with perfect teeth, wealthy but working so hard for kids, poor people and minorities. I remember discovering that little Jon Jon had grown up real good and my best friend giving me a calendar of JFK with a card - here are pictures of the father in law that you never got to meet. I remember in my early 20's buying ballgowns from Saks Fifth Avenue that I couldn't afford, tucking in the tags and crashing Kennedy Foundation parties at the Met, hoping for a sighting of a Kennedy and being rewarded by meeting Rory, Patrick, Caroline and seeing Ted at some of them - the Patriarch! I remember being a salesperson in NYC and working so hard to get the Hachette Filipachi account so I could have an excuse to be in the building that George Magazine was in, hoping to get a glimpse.
I remember all the Kennedy deaths and tragedies and taking them to heart like they were my family - Jackie, then the heartbreaking news of John Kennedy. I remember being riveted to my TV that sunny July afternoon hoping for good news, knowing it wouldn't come. I remember seeing Ted on the boat to pick up the bodies of his nephew - everyone's father - a role he was thrust into out of necessity, but one that he took to.
And I remember his speech at the Democratic National Convention where he passed the torch to Barack Obama. Practically calling him a Kennedy - the pride of Barack shining in his eyes - you would think there would have been some sadness, some irony - after all, Ted's own push to the White House failed and the new generation of Kennedys don't seem like the highest call is in the cards. But there was no irony. There was only pride. I do believe Ted Kennedy loved his country more than anything including his pride and the Family.
Ted Kennedy will forever be known as a great American. The Liberal Lion who befriended people in both parties and often crossed the aisle to work with Republicans to get the job done. Let the record show that this was a man who truly loved America. He will be missed.
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Ken Fink from Atlantic Beach, FL:
I often told my girlfriend/partner, an oncology nurse, that each night when we slep, it was a comfort to know that Ted Kennedy was tirelessly working to protect and advance the interests of every day americans. He was our chamption.
Lisa Sheridan from Los Angeles, CA:
Sen. Kennedy's landmark legislation in all areas of American life affected all of us. As an educator, no one fought harder for children in the classroom, as well as teachers who needed the resources to educate. As a woman, the landmark civil rights bill afforded me the right to housing and jobs, sans discrimination, as it did minorities. But I am more gratified that his work affected so many millions of other Americans--the elderly, the disabled, the poor, the uninsured, those with AIDS, the worker, the soldier, the disenfranchised. Having volunteered as a 16-year-old in Bobby's campaign, he sent us a note thanking our family for its condolences. Years later, in ELA, I was fortunate to be able to tell him what that meant to me and he was gracious. Our prayers are with the Kennedy Family, our gratitude for all the sacrifices they have made for this country. We are all a more compassionate people because of Ted's example.
Jomal Alcober from Miami, FL:
I recall meeting all of the Kennedys who had been serving on Capitol Hill. I was one of the few paid interns in DC during the middle 80's and held a piece of legislation that Mr. Kennedy had personally signed. What struck me as I looked down at his signature was the powerful recognition that his hand had held. As a non-black/non-hispanic person of color, he profoundly touched my life and my family's lives in so many moving ways. Just to be in the presence of this great legend allowed me to believe that I too could make a difference. And in my small way, because of him, I have. A true inspiration.
Diana, Dascalu-Joffe from Arlington, VA:
Senator Kennedy helped to sponsor my family to come the United States in 1981 from a dangerous communist dictatorship. My parents brought me to Washington, DC when I was two years old to meet with Kennedy. We have pictures of me sitting in his office chair and he said that some day, I will be a Senator making a difference in the US. I am now in DC as an advocate for the environment. I could not have done what I have done and been who I am if it was not for the courage of Sen. Ted Kennedy. Thank you for your service to this country and for saving my family from a horrible situation. You will be missed.
Diane Seuss from Kalamazoo, MI remembers Sen. Kennedy's eulogy for Robert Kennedy:
I have palpable memories of his eulogy for his brother Bobby. I was 12. The Tennyson lines stayed with me, seemed to elevate grief to something heroic and lasting. More visceral was the quiver in his voice, the trembling through which he spoke. I'd lost my own father a few years earlier, and my family's grieving had felt so quiet, so impacted. Senator Kennedy proclaimed his grief--his vulnerability, his tenderness--not only with openness but with a will to create a national meaning, a spiritual meaning, out of tragedy. I'll never forget his words, his voice, his humanness.
Jean Turner from Mission Viejo, CA tells how Kennedy helped her daughter get access to a good education:
Ted Kennedy and his staff were tremendously strong supporters of education for children with disabilities back in the 70s. His support helped pass the first-ever legislation that mandated education for handicapped children. My daughter, who has cerebral palsy, was the first disabled child to attend her local neighborhood school, because of that law. She was mainstreamed from kindergarten through 12th grade, and went on to obtain a BA in Psychology from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Senator Kennedy will always have a special place in my heart. My deepest condolences to all the family.
Bob Henline from Salt Lake City, UT:
I first met Senator Kennedy when I was working as an intern for an education group in Washington, DC in 1992. While it is easy to take shots at the man for personal issues in his past, Senator Kennedy was always diligent in his responsibilities.
I remember meeting with him numerous times on education funding issues, working to create the "Peace Dividend" and bring down the budget firewalls created by Gramm-Rudman-Hollings. The man was a tireless servant of the people, not just his own constituents but of all America.>
Christi S. from Highland Park, NJ remembers her encounter with Kennedy during the Obama campaign:
I was honored to have shaken Senator Ted Kennedy's hand when he was campaigning with Barack Obama, and I will never forget this experience. He was so genuinely interested in the people, and that came across in his firm and jovial handshake and the way he smiled as he looked in my eyes. I've described him, after meeting him in person, as a kind, jolly man- however, still a "Lion" to be reckoned with. His strength and passion were unique and will always be irreplaceable. Blessings and peace to his family and friends.
Jon Nalley from New York, NY:
As an HIV+ gay man infected in 1984, I owe my life to Senator Edward Kennedy. He was one of few (Weicker, Weiss, Waxman were others) who fought during those dark years of AIDS and Reagan when the country was content to see people like me die. Not Teddy! He fought for AIDS research and for people like me when the Reagan government was unwilling to do anything. Ted Kennedy fought for society's most maligned.
Bill Halpin from Camden, ME:
We had a shop on the harbor in Camden, Maine. One summer afternoon, standing at railing looking over the harbor, I watched a blue sailboat with a smiling man with white hair waving from the cockpit as he tootled the channel leading out to Curtis Island.
Mr. Kennedy carried a lot of history in that cockpit. It was good to salute a man happy to be where he was -- he kept waving over his shoulder as people sitting on the next door restaurant patio called out to him.
I return the wave again today, a bit saddened, these several years later.
Sidney Scott from Duvall, Washington has a childhood memory of Senator Kennedy:
When I was a little girl living in Washington DC, I was in a very crowded elevator. Teddy was in the the elevator and was really concerned that I would get trampled. He asked my name and then told everyone on the elevator to watch out out for me, making sure I didn't get squished.
I later had the honor of seeing the Senator speaking on a number of occassions. He was so great - standing up for what he believed. I loved him so much! My we all keep his dream alive!
Smith from Weatland, WY:
I have been a personal fan of Senator Kennedy since the 1970s, when he served as the head of the Judicial Committee. It was Senator Kennedy who responded to a letter from me, when I was then living in Florida working on domestic violence issues. We had run into local political problems. He came to our aid -- not because we were constituents, but because he cared deeply about the work we were trying to do on behalf of abused children and women. In my heart, he will always be a hero. Bless him, his family, and may the good works that he spent a lifetime working for (healthcare), FINALLY make it through Congress.
Henrietta Whitfield from Charlotte, NC:
My prayers are with your family.
Lyssa from Cambridge, MA:
I am mourning the death of Ted Kennedy because he was one of the few politicians that championed Youth Programs in a big way. Even though he came from a privileged background, he fought for those who had nothing. He assisted in all of our major struggles as a nation, and we should honor his memory by continuing to make our nation a place where everyone can succeed, regardless of race or class.
Ellen Beth Gill from Deerfield, IL remembers her short but memorable conversation with Kennedy in 2003:
I cannot say I knew Ted Kennedy, but I did have a chance to meet him and talk with him on a one on one basis. Kennedy had been helping John Kerry in Iowa in 2003 before the caucuses for 2004 and I was on the team working the events. John Kerry wasn't the type of guy who could get a crowd going in any organic sense. Kennedy could. I think Kennedy won the Davenport area for John Kerry by attending rallies and making rousing speeches. We interviewed people before and after each event and I know that Kerry won a lot of caucus votes from the Kennedy speeches. Below is a picture of Kennedy getting the crowd going at a firefighters event in Davenport.
After the speeches, we cleaned up, packed up and were ready to go, but John wasn't. Ted Kennedy was just hanging around with the rest of us. I sat on a table and Teddy walked over to the same table to lean against it. We greeted each other and began talking. We made some small talk and eventually I told him about a work friend of mine who had just earned her LLM in securities law and how she would not have been able to take a better position she was offered had it not been for the portability provisions in the original HIPPA law he championed. She had a serious pre-existing condition. Kennedy said he appreciated hearing the story. He probably heard stories like that all the time and he was probably really tired from his vibrant speech on behalf of the milktoast John Kerry, but he was very gracious to me.
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