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An Unparalleled Impact

By Gabriel Schneider
Published: September 2009

“An important chapter in our history has come to an end, President Obama said, regarding Ted Kennedy’s recent passing. “Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time.

Indeed, during Ted Kennedy’s tenure in the Senate, he stood among all others as a legislative giant.

“He has been the de facto leader of the Democratic Party for the past forty years or so, senior Alex Ketabi said, “probably the most influential and powerful figure.

Kennedy’s nickname “Lion of the Senate was not only a tribute to his formidable voice on the national scene, but also to his unyielding ability to bridge discord in the name of progress.

Before Kennedy’s funeral, the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston held a “Celebration of Life ceremony, where both friends and political foes alike spoke about their experiences with Kennedy. Figures like John McCain and Oren Hatch, both Republicans, attested to Kennedy’s unparalleled ability to compromise.

“When we were agreed on an issue and worked together to make a little progress for the country on an important issue, he was the best ally you could have, McCain said. “You never had even a small doubt that once his word was given and a course of action decided, he would honor the letter and spirit of the agreement.

History teacher Alan Chaney admired Kennedy’s flexibility in working with legislators of other viewpoints. “If the means were just, he would work with anybody, Chaney said.

Kennedy was well respected in the Senate and was thus able to influence an unprecedented amount of legislation. He championed such laws as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Immigration Act of 1965, the Voting Rights Act of 1982, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, and the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007.

Even though Kennedy came from a wealthy family, he believed in a better America for all people.

“Kennedy wasn’t poor, he wasn’t handicapped, he wasn’t black, and he wasn’t gay’€and yet he fought for all those things anyway, Chaney said.

“He was a pragmatist, senior Ben Chesler said, “He knew how to get things done. He knew what direction to go in, but he was willing to take baby steps to get there.

Kennedy’s passing marks the end of a chapter in this country’s history and evokes a feeling of loss in government officials and common citizens alike. “There’s certainly a void there, Cheney said, “but that’s what happens.

As for his life, “Ted Kennedy’s life’s work was not to champion the causes of those with wealth or power or special connections, Obama said. “It was to give a voice to those who were not heard; to add a rung to the ladder of opportunity; to make real the dream of our founding.

Noteworthy

“I don’t think there’s a more powerful and important group in our society than the young people of this nation… But if they’re going to sit out the problems and issues that we face at this time, I can tell there are many groups that are prepared to move into this vacuum and to take advantage of the times. This is the real issue…. That is why I am hopeful and confident that this generation is going to be as involved and as effective in the great issues of our time as was the past generation.­’€Senator Kennedy, March 24, 1975 at NNHS

“With Ted Kennedy, it wasn’t about the ‘Ëœvote for me’ mentality.’€Erika Stern

“Ted Kennedy’s life’s work was not to champion the causes of those with wealth or power or special connections. It was to give a voice to those who were not heard; to add a rung to the ladder of opportunity; to make real the dream of our founding.’€Barack Obama

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