Friday, August 28, 2009

Goodbye, Ted.

From the Associated Press, a report on the funeral procession that yesterday bore the body of Senator Edward M. Kennedy from Hyannis Port to Boston:
His life's journey ended, the body of Sen. Edward Kennedy traveled by motorcade Thursday from the family compound where he spent his last days, past the building where he opened his first office to the presidential library named for his slain brother.

Thousands of mourners assembled along the 70-mile route, gathering to bid farewell to the last of the famed Kennedy brothers and mark the end of a national political chapter that was both triumphant and tragic.

For many, it was hard to untangle Kennedy's larger-than-life role as a statesman from his role as neighbor and local celebrity, whether he was taking a turn conducting the Boston Pops or throwing out the first pitch for the Red Sox.

"It was Teddy's home team. It just seemed appropriate to leave him the cap," said James Jenner, 28, placing a Red Sox cap he was wearing near the entrance to the library. "It symbolizes everything that he loved about his home state and everything he was outside the Senate."
From the Boston Globe, similar sentiments:
Yesterday's procession, for all its grandeur and scope, seemed to captivate the region because many knew Kennedy not as an exalted senator and powerful statesman, bellowing on the national stage, but as an intimate figure who frequented their neighborhoods, knew their names, and exuded an uncommon compassion, especially in private moments.

"We're his family," said Teresa Antonelli, 82, who watched the senator's hearse pass through the North End and who carried a plastic bag with a framed photograph of Kennedy with her son.

"We loved him so much," she said, her voice breaking. "We'll miss him so much."
The Cape Cod Times quotes some Cape residents who turned out to say goodbye to their longtime neighbor as he left the Cape for the last time:
At the intersection of Bearse's Way and Route 132 [in Hyannis], hundreds of people lined the street, some waiting more than two hours to catch a glimpse of the motorcade.

Ava Pothier, who set up her chair in front of the Cape Codder Resort & Spa, remembered her grandmother crying when she heard that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. At the news of Sen. Kennedy's passing, she felt the same devastation, she said.

"I couldn't leave my house. I cried all day, don't know why, just because they've been with us all our lives," said Pothier, of Harwich. "It's just a weird thing, I don't know. I feel a connection. I feel a loss, too."

Wendy Higgins of Marstons Mills brought her two daughters, ages 6 and 7, and two other young family members to watch the procession. While the girls admitted they did not know what was happening, Higgins hopes someday they will.

"Later in life, they'll learn about it and understand it and they can say that they were a part of it," she said.
Later in the same Cape Cod Times article comes this tribute, which moved me more than anything else I've read in articles covering Senator Kennedy's death:
Linda Thomas of Ringwood, N.J., stood stoically, holding her daughter Marisa's wheelchair in place and grasping a simple cardboard sign that read "Thank You" in big black letters. Marisa has cerebral palsy and is blind. Thomas was on the Cape visiting relatives when she heard about the senator's death.

"We wanted to see Mr. Kennedy go by and to say thank you for the Americans with Disabilities Act," Thomas said. "Both he and his family did so much good for people with disabilities. (Marisa's) emblematic of the type of person they helped."
Thank you, Ted. We'll miss you. AMDG.


At 8/29/2009 9:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

May I ask, what exactly are we thankful to Ted for?

At 8/29/2009 1:02 PM, Blogger Joseph Koczera, S.J. said...


He was one of the most effective and prolific legislators of our time, and he had a significant (and, in my personal opinion, very positive) impact on national policy on civil rights, health care, labor, and other issues. One can appreciate his accomplishments without endorsing all of his positions. One may also disagree with Senator Kennedy's politics - even profoundly - while still affirming that he did a great deal to help the people of Massachusetts by bringing federal support to state and local projects and by providing exemplary constituent services to people in need. Politics is about helping real people in concrete situations, and this is something that Ted Kennedy did very well.

Senator Kennedy was a sinner and a flawed human being who made mistakes and misjudgments great and small in the conduct of his private and public life. In this regard, he was no different from the rest of us. I hope that those who believe that his flaws outweigh the good that he did will at least take some time to pray for the repose of his soul now that he has completed his earthly life.

At 8/29/2009 1:59 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

Amen, Joe. His life embodies how, even from our tragedies and grave mistakes, we can, with the help of grace, achieve something good. The fact that he touched so many with real compassion in their daily lives is not unrelated to the pain in his own. May he indeed rest in peace.


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