Tonight, America’s own “royal” family, and indeed the world, laid to rest a man whose political voice would echo in a crowded room. Sen. Edward Kennedy was a patriotic man, as well as a family man. But he also was a key player in the passing of one of our nation’s most groundbreaking pieces of legislation, the Americans with Disabilities act of 1990.Without this historic bill’s passage, many of us who are physically or mentally challenged would perhaps be denied many of the seemingly basic freedoms we enjoy today.
During a funeral ceremony at Our Lady of Perpetual Hope Basilica in Boston, President Barack Obama paid tribute to the man who was both his colleague and his friend. “Through his own suffering, Ted Kennedy became more alive to the plight and suffering of others — the sick child who could not see a doctor; the young soldier sent to battle without armor; the citizen denied her rights because of what she looks like or who she loves or where she comes from,” he said. Obama also added, “The landmark laws that he championed — the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, immigration reform, children’s health care, the Family and Medical Leave Act — all have a running thread. Ted Kennedy’s life’s work was not to champion those with wealth or power or special connections. It was to give a voice to those who were not heard; to add a rung to the ladder of opportunity; to make real the dream of our founding. He was given the gift of time that his brothers were not, and he used that gift to touch as many lives and right as many wrongs as the years would allow.”
It is this tireless dedication to the underdog that made Sen. Kennedy so beloved amongst his colleagues. He was also instrumental in Barack Obama’s campaign, rallying to his side during the Democratic National Convention in August 2008, just three months after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.
His final show of dedication to his personal cause, the Democratic party, makes the loss all the more bittersweet for those of us who mourn him today. But, we can take comfort in Kennedy’s immortal words, which he stated at the 2008 DNC: “The torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans[….] The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.”
May God Bless. ♥