You never truly appreciate someone until they are gone. Senator Edward M. Kennedy is no exception. Most people choose to get into politics as a way to inflate their ego. It is often said that politics is for the most vein of people, and also the ones with the greatest ego’s. Uncle Ted Kennedy may have had an ego, but he spent his whole life fighting for the little guy. Politicians are elected to represent us, and Senator Kennedy never forgot that.
Rather than reflect on his 47 year record in the Senate, I would like to share a story of the man that is Edward Kennedy. When I was eight years old my Uncle Vito died in a house fire. Edward Kennedy attended the funeral, and he payed his respects. This is typical of elected leaders. But, what made this special was he looked at me and said, “Hey buddy, what do you want to be when you grow up?” I was looking at this guy who had a funny looking face and froze. My father turned to me and whispered the word “Senator” in my ear. Senator Kennedy turned to me again and asked me the same question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I said, “Senator” He knelled down to me and said, “Son, you can be whatever you want in this world. And, you don’t need your father to tell you what you want to be. You will feel it.”
Senator Kennedy spent his whole life fighting the perception many people had of him and his family. His father, Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., carved out a path for his sons. It was a sad path. His son, Joe Jr., was the one that should have been President of the United States. Unfortunately, he died in World War II, fighting for this Country. Then, he pushed his other son, Jack, to run for President. We all know what happened to Jack on November 22, 1963. The torch was passed to Jack’s brother Bobby. Sadly, Bobby met the same fate that Jack met. He was shot by a lone gunman in Los Angeles in June of 1968. That left the torch to Edward Kennedy. Sadly, one year later, Edward Kennedy was involved in a car crash that ended in a death of a young lady, Mary Jo Kopechne. This event was known to be Chappaquiddick. Before this event many have thought that Edward Kennedy would have easily defeated Richard M. Nixon in the 1972 election, but Teddy didn’t run.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy had another chance to run in 1976, but he chose not to. He did, however, run in 1980 against President Jimmy Carter, and lost the primary. Senator Edward Kennedy was now the little engine that could, but never made it to the highest office. As I was watching the tribute to Senator Kennedy on MSNBC, I was struck by a comment that Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, Eugene Robinson said. He compared Edward Kennedy to a Prince, and his brothers to Kings. It is very easy to be a King, but it takes a great deal of skill to be a Prince. That was Senator Kennedy. He was a prince. There is a part of me that is sad that he never had a chance to become President. There is always that sea of the unknown that creates this aura or mystique about a person. Senator Kennedy was a passionate advocate, and he will be missed. He had a vast wealth of money and resources at his disposal, but he chose to go into public service. Public service that he saw deal a cruel fate to two of his brothers. Before he was a Senator he was caught cheating in his Spanish Class at Harvard. He was kicked out, but rather than cry and become a victim, he chose to join the Army as an enlisted member.
So, here we have a Kennedy with all the money in the world joining the U.S. Army as a regular enlisted guy. After his service he went back to Harvard and graduated. That goes a long way in my book. I cannot predict the future, but I am thankful for the past. The people of the Country should be thankful for all the work from the Senior Senator of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts