“For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”
Senator Ted Kennedy, Democratic National Convention, New York City, Aug 12, 1980
The first time I met Teddy Kennedy was inside the gymnasium at an elementary school in Waterloo, Iowa. It was January 18, 2004, only a few days before the Iowa caucuses with John Kerry trailing in the polls. As the National Finance Director for Women for Kerry, I had the access to slip quietly into the crowds awaiting the arrival of Senator Edward Kennedy. It was freezing cold outside, but the gym was hot, loud with anticipation to hear the “Lion of the Senate.” When he and John Kerry arrived, the crowd quieted and Teddy roared, rallying the crowd with his thunderous support of Senator John Kerry for President. It was a turning point for John Kerry in the primaries and a memorable night for me.
After his speech, I was introduced to Teddy by one of his dear friends also serving on the John Kerry Leadership Team. Senator Kennedy gave me a huge bear hug and welcomed me to public service. I was honored and filled with renewed courage and strength to challenge the status quo, to ask questions and to help find answers to social justice issues. Teddy had a strong, boisterous laugh and an intoxicating way to make you feel you have the power to achieve anything. I heard one of his favorite songs is the “Impossible Dream!”
One of the most auspicious nights I can remember with Senator Kennedy, was an evening at a tribute concert for his birthday in Boston in 2004. The audience was brimming with patriotism as he conducted the Boston Pops in “The Stars & Stripes Forever.”
From those campaign days, I had the great opportunity to meet Vicki at several dinners at their home in Georgetown. She is a brilliant star and together they lit up the rooms and lives of all the people they welcomed into their home. Later, I was invited to Hyannis Port with the Kerry Leadership Team, one of those fundraising events under the tents where you are invited to meet with the Kennedy clan and imagine what it would be like to live in the Kennedy compound. I had the honor of meeting with many of the Kennedy women including Kathleen and Kerry. Caroline and I had met at another dinner in Boston where she announced her support for John Kerry and became a regular surrogate speaker for him on the campaign trail. It took four more years for change to happen.
On August 25, 2008, at the Denver Democratic Convention, I felt the optimism of hope and change in the audience as Teddy rocked the Pepsi Center with his powerful speech endorsing Barack Obama for President. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pE_eKhUC9rI
“The work begins anew, the hope rises again, and the dream lives on.”
Senator Ted Kennedy, Democratic National Convention, Denver, August 25, 2008
Teddy Kennedy had his shortcomings and tragedies, yet he taught us how to be brave, courageous and to fight for our ideals to help make the world a better place for everyone. I am honored to have known him and to have been inspired by his dedication and love of family, friends and country.