By John M. Williams
Even though he has only been dead a few days, the late Senator Edward Moore Kennedy is all ready a legend. He had that rarest distinction of achieving legend status before his death. Like his brothers Joe Junior, John and Robert, Senator Kennedyâ€™s status will grow and grow in death to well deserved gargantuan .heights,
Ted Kennedy was n unabashed liberal. He was a champion of civil rights, of disability rights, of job rights, of health care rights, of environmental rights, of womenâ€™s rights, and of education reform.
Ted Kennedy embraced the three pâ€™s in life. He was a patriarch, patriot and politician-statesman. He excelled at all three.
As a patriarch he was a father to his children and his deceased brothersâ€™ children,
As a patriot, he was a supporter of free speech and his vote against going to war against Iraq was correct and he never waffled on it.
As a politician/statesman, his legislative accomplishments and his ability to be bi-partisan are well documented.
Ted Kennedy was also a humanitarian who saw the federal government as a social instrument and force for positive change. He was right. He viewed the federal government as embracing all Americans and ensuring that every citizen had both equal protections under the law and was given an equal opportunity to succeed.
Ted Kennedy believed in capitalism that was regulated. He saw the harm perpetuated by unbridled capitalism and sought to rein it in through federal regulation and legislation. He was right…
Ted Kennedyâ€™s opponents support a different view of the role of the federal government in the lives of Americans. They want an unbridled capitalism that decries responsibilities. The only times Kennedyâ€™s former opponents want the federal government involved is when business is being awarded huge federal contacts (taxpayersâ€™ money) with few or no restrictions. They are wrong.
I have met Ted Kennedy many times over the 40 years I have worked in the Washington, DC area. Anyone who worked on civil rights issues, disability issues, education issues and health issues was bound to meet him. He was always courteous and welcoming. He was ready to answer questions. He was genuinely committed to advancing opportunities for people with disabilities.
Ted Kennedy, I believe, was the political conscience of his opponents. He was also the political conscience of the country. .
Unfortunately, I do not have any Ted Kennedy stories to relate. I do recall meeting him and his former wife Joan at an Italian restaurant The Roma, in 1976 in Washington, DC. I said hello. We shook hands, but we did not have any conversation.
For decades, whenever I have thought of Ted Kennedy, I have thought of these words associated with the Statue of Liberty, â€œGive me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.â€ from The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus.
When writing The New Colossus I would like to think that Emma Lazarus had a dream about Ted Kennedy when writing those lines.
Ted Kennedy dedicated his life to seeing to it that the poor were fed, that the uneducated were educated, that healthcare was available to everyone, that people earned a livable wage, that unjust wars were stopped and that people with disabilities were assimilated into society.
As a visionary, Ted Kennedy saw his country as a true melting pot. Along with this melting pot Kennedy saw were the riches and strengths that come from assimilating diverse cultures into one nation.
Itâ€™s true that Ted Kennedy had flaws. There was no doubt that Ted Kennedy was a giant among his peers. Americans have lost one of its strongest democratic voices.
John Williams has been writing about disability issues since 1978. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His web site is www.atechnews.com. .