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Remembering Ted Kennedy

Banner Staff

EDITOR’S NOTE: Reverberations from the death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., at age 77 on Tuesday night are being felt across the globe and in all corners of American public life. Below are some of the many reactions to the news and remembrances of the Senate’s liberal lion.

“Edward M. Kennedy — the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply — died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port. We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever. We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all. He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it. He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it’s hard to imagine any of them without him.” — Statement from the Kennedy family

“For 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. … An important chapter in our history has come to an end. 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.” — President Barack Obama

“No words can ever do justice to this irrepressible, larger than life presence who was simply the best — the best senator, the best advocate you could ever hope for, the best colleague, and the best person to stand by your side in the toughest of times. He faced the last challenge of his life with the same grace, courage, and determination with which he fought for the causes and principles he held so dear. He taught us how to fight, how to laugh, how to treat each other, and how to turn idealism into action, and in these last fourteen months he taught us much more about how to live life, sailing into the wind one last time.” — Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

“One of the Commonwealth’s brightest lights went out last night. Ted Kennedy was a compassionate, effective, visionary statesman, family man and friend.” — Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (Click here to watch a video message from the governor about the late Sen. Kennedy.)

“The last son of Rose Fitzgerald and Joseph Kennedy was granted a much longer life than his brothers, and he filled those years with endeavor and achievement that would have made them proud.” — Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney

“Senator Kennedy may have walked with presidents and prime ministers, but he was always accessible to the people of Massachusetts and he was dedicated to improving the quality of life of individuals and families in every region of the state that he loved.” — Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray

“Senator Kennedy was the real deal – an authentic, principled and giving public servant who pushed us to work for things yet to be. His work eased our concerns, lifted us with opportunity and filled us with pride. … Boston has never had a greater champion. Massachusetts has never known a more relentless fighter for economic and social justice. America has never witnessed a more influential and productive legislator.” — Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino

“Ted Kennedy’s dream was the one for which the founding fathers fought and for which his brothers sought to realize. The liberal lion’s mighty roar may now fall silent, but his dream shall never die.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

“Teddy inspired our country through his dedication to health care reform, his commitment to social justice and his devotion to a life of public service. … Teddy taught us all that public service isn’t a hobby or even an occupation, but a way of life, and his legacy will live on.” — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, husband of Kennedy’s niece, Maria Shriver

“Ronnie and Ted could always find common ground, and they had great respect for one another. In recent years, Ted and I found our common ground in stem cell research, and I considered him an ally and a dear friend.” — Nancy Reagan, widow of former President Ronald Reagan

“At some of the most tragic and difficult moments in this nation’s history, Ted Kennedy gathered his strength and led us toward a more hopeful future.” — U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.

“Ted was always willing to not only reach across the aisle, but had the unique ability to pull people together to get things done, with both substance and a great sense of humor. He was undoubtedly one of the single most effective senators in this history of our country.” — Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H.

“Kennedy has been a friend for 30 years, a great American patriot, a great champion of a better world, a great friend of Israel. He will be sorely missed.” — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

“Ted Kennedy was a great American, a great Democrat and also a great friend of Australia. He has made an extraordinary contribution to American politics, an extraordinary contribution to America’s role in the world.” — Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

“The best tribute we could pay him is a renewed vigor in the fight to see his dreams realized. The world is going to miss Ted Kennedy. I already do.” — U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.

“… Even facing illness and death he never stopped fighting for the causes which were his life’s work. He led the world in championing children’s education and health care, and believed that every single child should have the chance to realize their potential to the full.” — British Prime Minister Gordon Brown

“The most influential senator [in the U.S.] … His influence on the peace process [in northern Ireland], and his influence on successive American presidents was I think absolutely crucial, and in particular of course on President (Bill) Clinton.” — Lord Owen, former British foreign secretary

“His outstanding and remarkable personal contribution was made, despite the sacrifice and sorrow that was part of the overall contribution of the entire Kennedy family.” — Irish President Mary McAleese

“America has lost a great and respected statesman and Ireland has lost a long—standing and true friend.” — Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen

“The senator dedicated his life to serving others, the state and the country he loved. We will live into his legacy every day by carrying with us his boundless energy and eternal optimism. … We will continue to persevere to bring access to health coverage that will allow all of us to live the fullest, healthiest lives possible. We believe it is [the] right thing to do, and the senator believed that, too.” — Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, executive director, Health Care For All

“Ted Kennedy would have been a leader, an outstanding senator, at any period in the nation’s history.” — Sen. Robert Byrd, D-Va.

“He was the survivor … He was not a shining star that burned brightly and faded away. He had a long, steady glow. When you survey the impact of the Kennedys on American life and politics and policy, he will end up by far being the most significant.” — Norman Ornstein, American Enterprise Institute

“Senator Kennedy was a towering inspiration to all of us fighting for the rights and dignities of immigrants and refugees, and to all those who yearn for the warmth of liberty’s torch. … Senator Kennedy’s presence in Massachusetts was as rich as it was long, and he will live in history as a testimony to America’s greatest ideals.” — Statement from the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition

“A motivating and dynamic presence in the U.S. Senate and around the globe, [Kennedy] fostered civilized debate in the Senate, promoted diversity in federal appointments and instilled hope in federal courts across this nation by his nomination of African Americans. He truly believed in equal justice for all Americans. … A true man of the people and family man, he will be sorely missed.” — Joyce London Alexander Ford, first African American female United States Magistrate Judge

“The world knows Ted Kennedy as an American patriot, the patriarch of one our country’s premier political dynasties, the most prodigious legislator in the history of the United States Senate, and one of the most dominant political figures of any era. … But I will also remember his endearing personal gestures — from the call I received from him upon the inauguration of Barack Obama as president to his incessant teasing about me missing a flight because of my overly long introduction of him at my church many years ago.” — Charles Stith, president of the African Presidential Archives and Research Center at Boston University and former U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania

“For so many of us in the Commonwealth and throughout this country, our cares were his concern. From civil rights to health care, he used all his passion and clout to open doors for the common man and common woman. He advocated, he demonstrated, he negotiated and he inspired. His voice will forever echo in our minds and hearts.” — Boston City Councilor-at-Large Sam Yoon

“For decades, Senator Edward M. Kennedy has been a true friend of the University of Massachusetts Boston. We admired and loved him for his commitment to equality and to every victim of inequality and disparate treatment, his vigorous support of education for all and research to enhance our quality of life, his defense of the integrity of our environment, and his impassioned efforts in the realms of health care, civil rights legislation, and more to build a world in which all human beings are secure and free to shape their own personal and social lives.” — Dr. J. Keith Motley, chancellor, University of Massachusetts Boston

“We will miss his humor, his strategic sensibility, and his ability to keep us moving forward whatever the obstacles. He taught us that the fate and possibilities of all of us are fully intertwined with the fate and possibilities of the least of us. Both political parties and every American, regardless of status or station, can honor Senator Kennedy’s life and legacy by recommitting ourselves to making the United States of America the most welcoming, free, egalitarian, and successful nation on earth.” — Ali Noorani, executive director, National Immigration Forum, and former executive director, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition

“Senator Kennedy’s work made this country more just and more open. Despite his class, Senator Kennedy related to people of all classes, races and ages with ease. People of color and the poor have lost the only true fighter we had in Washington.” — Statement from the Union of Minority Neighborhoods

“We lost a dear friend and a trusted ally in Senator Kennedy. He began his career in public service as a Suffolk prosecutor, and though he was only here a short time, his work in the decades that followed was in the spirit we here still embrace: the spirit of service to others and justice for all.” — Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley

“In October of 2006, [Senator Kennedy] honored our family by reading from a letter our son, the late Lcpl. Alexander Arredondo, at a memorial concert and tribute to today’s war heroes held in Worcester … Senator Kennedy was also a donor to the Lcpl. Alexander Scott Arredondo memorial scholarship set up at the Blue Hills Regional Technical High School in Canton, where Alex had graduated. … His compassion and concern were genuine and true.” — Carlos and Melida Arredondo

“[Kennedy’s] moral compass helped to guide this country toward addressing civil rights in hopes of bringing true substance to the American ideals of truth, justice and equality — for all. He had a deeper vision than most, and understood the need to ensure access to quality and affordable health care, a quality education [and] adequate wages. He will be sorely missed, but we are certain that the power of his voice and his deeds will echo through the American consciousness for generations to come.” — Karen Payne, president, Boston branch of the NAACP

“[Kennedy’s] leadership on civil rights issues … is unprecedented and incomparable. Beginning his Senate career at the dawn of the civil rights movement, he was at the helm during passage of all the important federal civil rights laws — laws ensuring full participation in the political process, opportunity in employment, access to public accommodations, fairness in housing and equal opportunity in education. Without his unyielding voice, the nation would be a very different place.” — Statement from the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

“Kennedy, who fought to abolish racism and poverty, remained a symbol of hope for the underprivileged and impoverished people of this country … Kennedy was the closest we had to an abolitionist on the United States Senate. Kennedy fought to make sure those who are less fortunate in our society receive support from the federal government.” — Boston City Councilor Charles C. Yancey

“At ABCD we have always called Senator Ted Kennedy the champion of the poor. And he fulfilled that description in every conceivable manner. … He has been the man ABCD turned to when times were tough and he always came through for us and for poor people across the nation.” — Statement from Action for Boston Community Development Inc.

“Ted Kennedy … personified a sense of aspiration that has become America’s aspiration — to make things better, to make them more fair, to make our nation more compassionate and hopeful, to make life work for working men and women. … He championed the cause of working people and labor out of deep affection — and the affection was mutual.” — John Sweeney, president, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations

“Senator Kennedy understood that AIDS was more than a disease — but a human rights issue. … Under Kennedy’s decisive leadership, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Care and Treatment Program passed in 1990. Since that time, the legislation has evolved, helping to provide life-saving and life-extending prevention, treatment, care and support services to over a half million people living with HIV/AIDS. The program has saved countless lives — and entire communities.” — Statement from the National Minority AIDS Council

“Those of us in the community health field cannot overstate the impact that Senator Kennedy had, and continues to have through his legacy, on health equity, disparities and access for those most in need. To his last day, he fought to ensure equality and his relentless drive and motivation should instill in us all the need to continue his fight and bring health care access to every members of our society. … Through his political action and personal support, his impact on Whittier Street Health Center is seen every day in the patients that come through our doors.” — Frederica M. Williams, president and CEO, Whittier Street Health Center

“In these past 50 years, no elected official has done more for the cause of civil rights, education, affordable housing, immigration reform, women’s rights and the rights of workers and their unions than Senator Kennedy. He has stood with 1199 at every important juncture. … Senator Kennedy was driven by his deep convictions and his commitment to public service. This was most evident in the fight for quality, affordable universal health care, which he advanced even as he fought the cancer that ultimately took his life.” — George Gresham, president, 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East

Material from the Associated Press and the New York Times was used in this report.