August 26, 2009

Remembering Sen. Ted Kennedy

Posted: 02:40 AM ET

Statements are already beginning to pour in regarding the death of Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy – we'll be paying tribute and want to hear your memories of the Senator.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger:

“Maria and I are immensely saddened by the passing of Uncle Teddy. He was known to the world as the Lion of the Senate, a champion of social justice, and a political icon. Most importantly, he was the rock of our family: a loving husband, father, brother and uncle. He was a man of great faith and character. 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. I have personally benefitted and grown from his experience and advice, and I know countless others have as well. 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.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:

“The Kennedy family and the Senate family have together lost our patriarch. My thoughts, and those of the entire United States Senate, are with Vicki, Senator Kennedy’s children, his many nieces and nephews, and his entire family. “It was the thrill of my lifetime to work with Ted Kennedy. He was a friend, the model of public service and an American icon.“As we mourn his loss, we rededicate ourselves to the causes for which he so dutifully dedicated his life. Senator Kennedy’s legacy stands with the greatest, the most devoted, the most patriotic men and women to ever serve in these halls. “Because of Ted Kennedy, more young children could afford to become healthy. More young adults could afford to become students. More of our oldest citizens and our poorest citizens could get the care they need to live longer, fuller lives. More minorities, women and immigrants could realize the rights our founding documents promised them. And more Americans could be proud of their country.“Ted Kennedy’s America was one in which all could pursue justice, enjoy equality and know freedom. Ted Kennedy’s life was driven by his love of a family that loved him, and his belief in a country that believed in him. 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.”

Nancy Reagan:

I was terribly saddened to hear of the death of Ted Kennedy tonight. Given our political differences, people are sometimes surprised by how close Ronnie and I have been to the Kennedy family. But 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. I will miss him. My heart goes out to Vicki and the entire Kennedy family.

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House

“Today, with the passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the American people have lost a great patriot, and the Kennedy family has lost a beloved patriarch. Over a lifetime of leadership, Senator Kennedy’s statesmanship and political prowess produced a wealth of accomplishment that has improved opportunity for every American. Senator Kennedy had a grand vision for America, and an unparalleled ability to effect change. Rooted in his deep patriotism, his abiding faith, and his deep concern for the least among us, no one has done more than Senator Kennedy to educate our children, care for our seniors, and ensure equality for all Americans. Ted Kennedy’s dream of quality health care for all Americans will be made real this year because of his leadership and his inspiration. Sadly, Senator Kennedy left us exactly one year after he inspired the nation with his speech of optimism, vitality, and courage at the Convention in Denver. On behalf of all Members of Congress, and personally on behalf of my family, today and in the days ahead, our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Kennedy family, especially with Senator Kennedy’s devoted wife Vicki, and with Kara, Teddy Jr., and our colleague Patrick, who made their father so proud. I hope it is a comfort to them that our nation and the world mourn their loss and are praying for them at this sad time.”

Filed under: Congress • Ted Kennedy

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Ileana Dell'Arciprete   August 26th, 2009 3:04 am ET

The best senator in USA history. A man that worked hard for his country his whole life. May God Bless him and his whole family.

Joycelyn Adams   August 26th, 2009 3:13 am ET

I am saddened by the passing of Senator Kennedy. He was an iconic and sincere politician, humanitarian and philantropist.
He has been in the Senate my entire life. I grew up be taught about the Kennedy's and following Senator Kennedy's career.
I am honored to have lived during his iconic, dynamic and unforgettable tenure.
Although he was born into privelege and wealth, he always fought sincerely and hard for the average citizen, working tirelessly for the betterment of mankind and his country.
I shall miss him dearly. I love him and now he has been called from labor to reward. He fought a good fight and he kept the faith.
May God bless the Kennedy family and the USA.

Nicole S. -- North Carolina   August 26th, 2009 3:15 am ET

The passing of Senator Kennedy marks the end of a political dynasty in American history. My condolences to the Kennedy family.

Hugh Carpenter ~ Tracy, California   August 26th, 2009 6:03 am ET

Rest in peace "Teddy" Kennedy. I will miss your warm smile, your magnetic personality, and your tiredless dedication to the common man, the less fortunate, and the disenfranchised. Your unselfish hard work as a public servant is an inspiration to all people, to those of us who recognize your amazing life-long commitment to make our nation a better country for all its people. Thank you for giving so much of yourself to those who had so little; thank you for giving a voice to the voiceless. God bless you Ted, and may the heavens open to greet you.

Bill   August 26th, 2009 7:28 am ET

My first thought

Mary Jo Kopechne

Sometime around midnight, on July 18, 1969 Kennedy drove his Oldsmobile 88 off of a small bridge on Chappaquiddick island, into eight feet of chilly water. The vehicle landed upside-down. While Kennedy managed to free himself from the wreck and swim to safety, his passenger, 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne was left in the car to drown.

Once he reached shore, Kennedy claims to have made seven or eight attempts to rescue Kopechne, but could not free her.

Kennedy then walked back to the cottage where he and four other men, were partying with several young women known as the “Boiler Room Girls“ who had worked on Robert Kennedy‘s campaign. Though Kennedy passed by a fire station and a private home to return to the cottage, he never stopped to ask for help for the trapped Kopechne.

He returned to the party and according to Kennedy himself, informed his cousin and a friend of the situation. The two men, Joseph Gargan and Paul Markham claim to have returned to the scene of the accident and made several unsuccessful attempts to free Kopechne.

Then Kennedy’s story takes an even stranger turn.

After the failed rescue attempts, Kennedy claims to have jumped back into the water and made the 500-foot swim across the channel back to Edgartown. He then walked back to his hotel and spent the night. He even took the time to change clothes and pay a visit to the front-desk, to complain about a noisy party–no doubt Kennedy's sloppy attempt at securing an alibi.

The next morning, Gargan and Markham around 8:00 a.m., and were supposedly shocked to discover that Kennedy never reported the accident to police. According to Kennedy‘s own testimony, he told them: "about my own thoughts and feelings as I swam across that channel ... that somehow when they arrived in the morning that they were going to say that Mary Jo was still alive"

The two men along with Kennedy went back to Chappaquiddick, where Kennedy spent some time making phone calls, seeking advice from various individuals as to how to proceed.

Meanwhile, two fisherman had discovered the submerged car and notified police. At 8:45a.m. a diver recovered the lifeless body of Mary Jo Kopechne.

It was not until 10a.m., over nine hours after driving-off of the bridge that Ted Kennedy went to the police station in Edgarton to report the accident.

Kennedy then gave the following prepared statement to police: “On July 18, 1969, at approximately 11:15 p.m. in Chappaquiddick, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, I was driving my car on Main Street on my way to get the ferry back to Edgartown. I was unfamiliar with the road and turned right onto Dike Road, instead of bearing hard left on Main Street. After proceeding for approximately one-half mile on Dike Road I descended a hill and came upon a narrow bridge.

The car went off the side of the bridge. There was one passenger with me, one Miss Mary [Kopechne], a former secretary of my brother Sen. Robert Kennedy. The car turned over and sank into the water and landed with the roof resting on the bottom. I attempted to open the door and the window of the car but have no recollection of how I got out of the car. I came to the surface and then repeatedly dove down to the car in an attempt to see if the passenger was still in the car. I was unsuccessful in the attempt. I was exhausted and in a state of shock.

I recall walking back to where my friends were eating. There was a car parked in front of the cottage and I climbed into the backseat. I then asked for someone to bring me back to Edgartown. I remember walking around for a period and then going back to my hotel room. When I fully realized what had happened this morning, I immediately contacted the police”

In a move which must have been rather tortuous for her parents, Kennedy attended Mary Jo's funeral, wearing a neck brace (which he reportedly never wore again) and looking rather pathetic.

The diver who recovered Kopechne’s body, John Farrar testified at the official inquest that her body was found where the air pocket would have formed. He said: “Had I received a call within five to ten minutes of the accident occurring, and was able, as I was the following morning, to be at the victim's side within twenty-five minutes of receiving the call, in such event there is a strong possibility that she would have been alive on removal from the submerged car.”

A week after the incident, Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and received a suspended two-month sentence. Kennedy then went on national television to repeat his rather implausible story, and to ask for the public’s “prayers.”

The ensuing scandal and questionable details given by all of those involved is now left to speculation. It was obvious to most people that Kennedy had allowed a young girl to drown, in a desperate and self-serving attempt to protect his political career.

thomas   August 26th, 2009 10:38 am ET

no comments yet from the Bush family ??

Mary from Canada   August 26th, 2009 11:06 am ET

The Kennedy impact goes beyond borders. Ted and all the Kennedys have been role models for decades, encouraging people of action to keep fighting the good fight. As I near 50, I am deeply saddened by his loss and that of Eunice just 2 weeks ago. I can only hope that younger people will take up the torch, not just in the U.S. but throughout the world.

Ted   August 26th, 2009 11:09 am ET

Teddy Kennedy was a statesman, a rare specimen among politicians. He worked not for his own interests, but for the interest of the whole nation, the poor and disfranchised and will go down in history as one of the greatest senators we ever had.
During 1959-1960 I had the pleasure to meet him personally in Boston during the presidential campaign of his brother John and found him a pleasant and friendly person.
My sincere best wishes go to his family and I hope MA will find a senator who will take his place. Ted´s shoes may be too large, but the right person could grow into it to continue the work of the Kennedy family. RIP Teddy.

idzan ismail of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia   August 26th, 2009 11:24 am ET

Dear Thomas
There was from the elder Bush representing the Bush family..

Kristi Karnopp   August 26th, 2009 11:41 am ET

I am sorry to hear about Ted Kennedy. His battle was ongoing, long, and he did not give up. When I had gotten online this morning, my heart ached the loss of Ted's passing and he will be remembered always by many. When I had learned of his cancer, my heart just rang an ache of understanding. May God watched over family and friends during their time of mourning and loss.

Marla   August 26th, 2009 11:51 am ET

I am saddened by the death of Teddy Kennedy. He was a iconic politician, humanitarian and civil rights leader. Our lives have been forever changed by this great man, the last of the great kennedy patriarchs. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Kennedy family during this difficult time. Thanks for sharing your father with us for so many years.

hassan   August 26th, 2009 12:05 pm ET

i can say senator kennedy was legend iam very sad hi death

Michael C. McHugh   August 26th, 2009 12:11 pm ET

Too bad he died at this point, when Obama needed him most to help get all his reforms passed in teh Senate. I doubt that Obama himself will be able to do it, since his rhetoric promised a lot more change than in reality. It's too bad.

Anthony Bwana   August 26th, 2009 12:31 pm ET

This has proven to be a long day i just don't know what the world is coming to its so sad

Loveth   August 26th, 2009 12:46 pm ET

Indeed Teddy Kennedy was a great patriot, a LEGEND.He has done so well for his country while in the senate.His humanitarian and political life style has made him an icon of a great patriarch....He his sincere in all he does.He is a man one would love to be with and never to loose....We miss him somuch.But his attribute towards USA will continue to live within us.

Cookla   August 26th, 2009 1:57 pm ET

The last Kennedy so sad he had the right idea's and fought for everyone of those idea's to makes the dream come to true RIP Mr Ted Kennedy.

Hugh Carpenter ~ Tracy, California   August 26th, 2009 2:50 pm ET

@ Bill,
Your timing with the "Mary-Jo" novelette could not have been posted at a worse time. You are an insensitive blowhard. I hope you go to the afterlife into the infernal regions! I can think of many other things to say about you, but I will not waste my time on such a spiteful person, who reaches back into history to tarnish the life of a man who has obviously done more to help people in one day, then you could do in a hundred years!

Ted   August 27th, 2009 11:26 am ET

@ Hugh Carpenter

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