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Edward Kennedy (1932)

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  Summary  

Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy (February 22, 1932– August 25, 2009) was a United States Senator from Massachusetts and a member of the Democratic Party. Serving almost 47 years, he was the second most senior member of the Senate when he died and is the fourth-longest-serving senator in United States history. For many years the most prominent living member of the Kennedy family, he was the last surviving son of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.; the youngest brother of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, both victims of assassination, and Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., killed in action in World War II; and the father of Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy.

Kennedy entered the Senate in a November 1962 special election to fill the seat once held by his brother John. He was elected to a full six-year term in 1964 and was reelected seven more times before his death. The controversial Chappaquiddick incident on July 18, 1969, resulted in the death of his automobile passenger Mary Jo Kopechne; Kennedy pleaded guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident, and the incident significantly damaged his chances of ever becoming President of the United States. His one attempt, in the 1980 presidential election, resulted in a Democratic primary campaign loss to incumbent President Jimmy Carter.

Kennedy was known for his charisma and oratorical skills. His 1968 eulogy for his brother Robert and his 1980 rallying cry for modern American liberalism were among his best-known speeches. He became recognized as "The Lion of the Senate" through his long tenure and influence. More than 300 bills that Kennedy and his staff wrote were enacted into law. Unabashedly liberal, Kennedy championed an interventionist government emphasizing economic and social justice, but was also known for working with Republicans to find compromises between senators with disparate views. Kennedy played a major role in passing many laws, including laws addressing immigration, cancer research, health insurance, apartheid, disability discrimination, AIDS care, civil rights, mental health benefits, children's health insurance, education and volunteering. In the 2000s, he led several unsuccessful immigration reform efforts. Over the course of his Senate career and continuing into the Obama administration, Kennedy continued his efforts to enact universal health care, which he called the "cause of my life."

In May 2008, Kennedy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor which limited his appearances in the Senate. He died on August 25, 2009, in his Hyannis Port, Massachusetts home. By the time of his death, he had come to be viewed as a major figure and spokesman for American progressivism.

  Biography  

 death
Kennedy died of brain cancer on Tuesday, August 25, 2009, at his home in Hyannis Port, two weeks after the death of his sister Eunice. He was survived by his wife Victoria, his sister Jean Kennedy Smith, his three children, two stepchildren and four grandchildren. In a statement, Kennedy's family thanked "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".

 Reaction
President Obama said that Kennedy's death marked the "passing of an extraordinary leader" and that he and First Lady Michelle Obama were "heartbroken" to learn of Kennedy's death, while Vice President Biden said "today we lost a truly remarkable man," and that Kennedy "changed the circumstances of tens of millions of Americans". Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts Governor and Kennedy's opponent in the 1994 senate race, called Kennedy "the kind of man you could like even if he was your adversary" and former First Lady Nancy Reagan said she was "terribly saddened." She went on: "Given our political differences, people are sometimes surprised how close Ronnie and I have been to the Kennedy family. ... I will miss him." Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, the President pro tempore of the Senate, issued a statement on Kennedy's death in which he said "My heart and soul weeps at the loss of my best friend in the Senate, my beloved friend, Ted Kennedy". (Byrd had broken down on the Senate floor and cried uncontrollably when Kennedy's cancer diagnosis was made public the previous year.) Upon his death, his sister Jean Kennedy Smith is the only surviving child of Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Kennedy.

There were also tributes from outside politics as well, including a moment of peace in the fierce rivalry between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox as both teams observed a moment of silence. Flags at Fenway Park were flown at half-staff and "Taps" was performed as players stood along the baselines before a Red Sox game. The Yankees observed a moment of silence for Kennedy before a game at Yankee Stadium as well.

 Funeral services
Kennedy's body traveled a journey from the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port, past numerous landmarks named after his family, to the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts, where it lay in repose and where over 50,000 members of the public filed by to pay their respects. On Saturday, August 29, a procession traveled from the library to the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Boston, for a funeral Mass. Present at the funeral service were President Obama and former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush , along with Vice President Biden, three former Vice Presidents, 58 senators, 21 former senators, many members of the House of Representatives, and several foreign dignitaries. President Obama delivered the eulogy.

The funeral service also drew celebrities and other notables from outside politics from Boston, Washington, and across the United States, including singers Tony Bennett and Placido Domingo, actors Jack Nicholson and Brian Stokes Mitchell, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, actress Lauren Bacall, presidents and chancellors of Boston-area colleges and universities including Harvard University President Drew G. Faust and UMass President Jack M. Wilson, and sports figures including Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell and the top management of the Red Sox.

Kennedy's body was returned to Washington, D.C. for burial at Arlington National Cemetery near the graves of his brothers. Kennedy's grave marker is identical to his brother Robert's: a white oak cross and a marble white foot marker bearing his full name, year of birth and death.

 Aftermath
True Compass, the memoir that Kennedy worked on throughout his illness, was published three weeks after his death. It debuted atop the New York Times Best Seller list and by mid-December 2009 had total sales of some 400,000 copies.

A special election was scheduled for January 19, 2010, for the U.S. Senate seat from Massachusetts left vacant by Kennedy's passing. Shortly before his death, Kennedy had written to Democratic Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick and the Massachusetts legislature to change state law to allow an appointee to fill a U.S. Senate vacancy, for a term expiring upon the special election. (Kennedy had been instrumental in the prior 2004 alteration of this law to prevent Governor Mitt Romney from appointing a Republican senator should John Kerry's presidential campaign succeed.) The law was amended, and on September 24, 2009, Paul G. Kirk, former Democratic National Committee chairman, and former aide to Kennedy, was appointed to occupy the Senate seat until the completion of the special election. Kirk announced that he would not be a candidate in the special election. In that election, Republican State Senator Scott Brown won the seat in a stunning upset, ending Democratic control of it going back to 1953.

The defeat cost Democrats their 60-vote supermajority in the Senate and appeared to spell the end for health care reform legislation. But Democrats rallied and passed the measure; Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was instrumental in doing so, credited Kennedy's life work in her final remarks on the House floor before the final vote. Kennedy's widow, Victoria Kennedy, attended the signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, at which both she and President Obama wore blue "Tedstrong" bracelets. Congressman Patrick Kennedy – whose decision a month earlier not to seek re-election meant that in January 2011, a 64-year streak of a Kennedy holding elective office in Washington would come to an end – brought a copy of a national health insurance bill his father had introduced in 1970 as a gift for the president. Patrick Kennedy then laid a note on his father's grave that said, "Dad, the unfinished business is done."

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Ted Kennedy", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.