Thursday, August 27, 2009

It Just Isn't the Same Anymore

Somehow, when someone dies, it just isn’t the same for me any more. I suppose you could say it is because as I reach my advanced years I become so much more aware of the personalities I have known or heard about for most of my life who are now beginning to leave us. As a child I remember my parents remarking about the passing of some public figure, be it a movie star, politician or local celebrity that everyone knew, and saying how it seemed that all the “good” people were leaving us. The older I get, the more I am aware of those same feelings. It is like the pool of friends is getting smaller every day. That is not to say that I have a personal relationship with the more public figures. It is just that due to who they were they influenced my life and my world in some way that made them seem personal to me. Unfortunately, I often don’t realize that until they are gone.

The night of August 25, 2009 the nation lost one its most ardent exponents for social justice, human rights and equality for all—Senator Edward Moore Kennedy. I wanted to write my own thoughts in tribute to him. The newspapers, TV and radio all echo the voices of those much more articulate than I so I let the notion slip by. Then, this morning I received the email from our President, Barack Obama, reflecting his feelings and those of Michelle. As far as I am concerned, what he said fits for me. So, I am sharing it here for any of my readers who may not have seen it.

Daniel -- Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy. For nearly 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. His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives -- in seniors who know new dignity; in families that know new opportunity; in children who know education's promise; and in all who can pursue their dream in an America that is more equal and more just, including me. In the United States Senate, I can think of no one who engendered greater respect or affection from members of both sides of the aisle. His seriousness of purpose was perpetually matched by humility, warmth and good cheer. He battled passionately on the Senate floor for the causes that he held dear, and yet still maintained warm friendships across party lines. And that's one reason he became not only one of the greatest senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy. I personally valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've benefited as President from his encouragement and wisdom. His fight gave us the opportunity we were denied when his brothers John and Robert were taken from us: the blessing of time to say thank you and goodbye. The outpouring of love, gratitude and fond memories to which we've all borne witness is a testament to the way this singular figure in American history touched so many lives. For America, he was a defender of a dream. For his family, he was a guardian. Our hearts and prayers go out to them today -- to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family. Today, our country mourns. We say goodbye to a friend and a true leader who challenged us all to live out our noblest values. And we give thanks for his memory, which inspires us still.
Sincerely, President Barack Obama

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