Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Senator Edward Kennedy dies

The Lion of the Senate has died.

Senator Edward Kennedy [D-Mass.] lost his battle to brain cancer late last night at his Cape Cod home. His family released a statement shortly after he passed away.

“We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever," it read. “We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness, and opportunity for all. He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it. He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it’s hard to imagine any of them without him."

The White House issued a statement earlier this morning.

"Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy," President Barack Obama said. "For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts."

Some of the groups that directly benefited from Kennedy's legislative agenda also mourned the senator's passing.

“The nation has lost its greatest champion and strongest voice for justice, fairness, and compassion," Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said. "The loss to our community is immeasurable. There was no greater hero for advocates of LGBT equality than Senator Ted Kennedy. From the early days of the AIDS epidemic, to our current struggle for marriage equality he has been our protector, our leader, our friend. He has been the core of the unfinished quest for civil rights in this country and there is now a very painful void. Our hearts go out to the Kennedy family."

Growing up in New England, it was almost impossible to escape the Kennedy family mystique. Kennedy himself was a man who saw unspeakable tragedy. His actions--especially those on Chappaquiddick Island in 1969--almost certainly revealed his darker side, but there is no doubt the Lion of the Senate leaves behind a tremendous legacy. He held a family together during many of its darkest moments. And Kennedy became a voice for millions of Americans who had none. May he rest in peace!

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