Like millions of Americans across the country mourning the death of Senator Ted Kennedy with his family and friends, I feel the loss of an icon and can't imagine American public life without him.
The first time I saw Senator Kennedy was in San Francisco when he was running for President. Though far too young to vote (or even drive), I volunteered on his California primary campaign and remember being in the 1980 Democratic convention hall during his epic speech. Ted Kennedy's stirring words from that night ricocheted through my brain over the years and when I learned of his death: "the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."
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Though deeply disappointed that Kennedy did not win the presidency, I admired him for emerging out of his loss and his brothers' shadow to be one of the best Senators in history -- proving that you don't have to reach your highest political ambition in order to reach your fullest human potential.
A few years ago I was at the Capitol for a Kennedy Center honorees reception and saw the senator in a quiet corridor off Statuary Hall. "I love to walk through here and see the great statues and pictures of our Founders" he said. "It always gives me a thrill to be here and think of all they did." It was striking that after all the years and all his accomplishments at the Capitol, Ted Kennedy was still awed by being there. Ideally, every public servant feels that same thrill when they show up for work be it at the nation's Capitol or a local volunteer post.
The last time I saw Ted Kennedy was a generation after my first meeting, at the Senate subway below the Capitol on Obama's Inauguration Day. He was his usual gregarious and gracious self -- with beaming smile and booming voice wishing my husband and me good luck with our pregnancy and expressing his excitement about the new President.
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Ted Kennedy's inspiration will loom large over our politics for years to come, uplift us in the healthcare fight, and help to achieve his dream of liberty and justice for all.
**** UPDATE *** Senator Kennedy's website is allowing supporters to
submit our memories of Senator Kennedy, and to express our sympathies
with the Kennedy family. Selected memories will be displayed on
In addition to written tributes, you can also add photos of yourself with Senator Kennedy (mine is from a 1980 presidential campaign event at the SF home of Richard and Barbara Sklar)
HERE IS THE LINK: http://tedkennedy.org/pages/share_memories