09/29/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Ted Kennedy: Master Sailor and Senator


I had hoped Senator Edward M. Kennedy would be miraculously cured of brain cancer. My alternative prayer was that he would live to see meaningful health care legislation passed.

I consider myself an independent (even though I'm registered as a Democrat because their primaries are more interesting). Senator Kennedy's politics are a bit to the left of mine. Nevertheless, I believe we owe him our thanks for getting Meals on Wheels, the Americans with Disabilities Act and countless other bills passed which improved civil rights, education and health care. He personally authored over 300 bills that became public law.

Many have reminisced about Kennedy's passion and talent for sailing. Perhaps he saw the Senate as a sailing vessel. He knew nothing would sail onto the President's desk without the help of a good crew, so Kennedy often put partisanship aside to get legislation accomplished. John McCain has said: "He's the most effective single member of the Senate." I hope members of the Senate will step up and be captains, reaching across the aisle to navigate health care legislation across turbulent waters onto the President's desk.

I've been surprised that I felt his loss so personally. In 1969, when the tragic accident occurred at Chappaquiddick, I was 10. This week I realized he was a man who made a mistake, and we all have feet of clay. He endured so much tragedy, and yet he never gave up. With his passing, I realized Senator Kennedy proves redemption is possible. If we have faith, work together and keep our nose to the grindstone, we can all make a difference.

Michael Dannenberg, who once worked on Sen. Kennedy's staff, provides a glimpse of Ted Kennedy, the man.

There were many great eulogies today, but I was especially moved by the words of Ted Kennedy, Jr., two notable Republicans and Former Senator John Culver.

Ted Kennedy, Jr

Sen. Warren Hatch (Utah) remembers his friendship with Ted Kennedy.

Former Senator John Culver (Iowa)

Senator John McCain (Arizona)

There may not be any single senator ready to take up Ted Kennedy's mantle. So why not pick it up together as a legislative body? Partisan politics and lobbyists do not serve the American people. Please reach across the aisle (whether you're in the minority or majority party) and accomplish health care reform, and call it the Edward M. Kennedy Act.

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