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Many have much to say, some more personally close to Senator Kennedy, some with greater public office or accomplishment than my own.  The question is, therefore, why add to the pile.

The answer comes from Senator Kennedy:

For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.

I was eleven years old when President Kennedy, the inspiration to so many, was taken from us.  It is hard to explain the impact of his brief presidency on so many Americans, particularly those of my age but it led me to a professional life in the service of the public and formed my political consciousness as to what government means and what it can mean to the many who depend on it.

In the absence of his brothers, it was Senator Kennedy who embodied those ideals.  If one squinted a bit, he became President Kennedy, but he grew into so much more.  The opportunity to vote for him, in the New York presidential primary in 1980, was monumental.  I lived in a part of New York City which was quite politically aware and I was hardly the only one excited about the prospect of a new President Kennedy, but the long line in which I waited was well worth it and the event one of celebration.

And so, many years later, as I considered a field of good candidates to carry the torch forward, it was Caroline Kennedy's essay about President Obama that finally made up my mind.  I have always viewed candidates for the  presidency against the ideal of President Kennedy and his daughter's comments struck home.  Thereafter, the courageous Senator Kennedy travelling the country in support of President Obama's candidacy was yet further evidence of what he has meant to this country and made me as proud to vote for our new President as it was to support the doomed candidacy of Senator Kennedy in 1980.

Senator Kennedy's defeat in 1980 ushered in as dark a period of time in our politics as there has been in my lifetime, and its effects linger to this day.  Yet he never gave up and did not allow us to either.

So he said goodbye to our nation, gravely ill, knowing he would not survive much longer by telling the Democratic National Convention that

For me this is a season of hope — new hope for a justice and fair prosperity for the many, and not just for the few — new hope.

And this is the cause of my life — new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American — north, south, east, west, young, old — will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.


Originally posted to Barth on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 07:52 AM PDT.

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