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Archive for August, 2009

“Most Americans will never know how many things Ted Kennedy did to make their lives better, how many things he prevented that would have hurt them, and how tenaciously he fought on their behalf.”–Robert Reich (this morning)

I awoke to the news of Ted Kennedy’s passing a few minutes ago and just broke into tears – tears that keep flowing as I write this. I’ll always remember this morning and where I am and how I feel. I knew it was coming, but we never know exactly when. In the past few weeks, I knew it would be soon.

I’m not sure most people realize what a hero Ted Kennedy was. For most of my adult life, he’s been my greatest hero. I can’t explain it exactly. Many others surely deserve my adoration, my admiration; but he’s the one who got it. Maybe it was because he just didn’t have to do what he did. Maybe it was because he came from such privilege that I always just found it fascinating that he really understood the rest of us and cared for us so deeply. I knew in my heart he always did. I’ve always known that he cared about the hard-scrabble Appalachian life I came from – he always cared, and he always understood. He transcended his own background with his humanity.

I only saw him once in person. I was in the DC Airport (then called National Airport) when I was in my 20s. All I remember was how very tan and how very “polished” he looked, perfect clothes, bearing, grooming – the look of wealth and health. And he had a smile that was magnetic. Smiling eyes, very white and perfect teeth, that mane of lionine hair. Just a brief passing – I couldn’t take my eyes off him for those 2 or 3 minutes.

As I went through my life after that, I read everything about his Senate career. I read about his unflinching, his heroic, his never-tiring devotion to the have-nots of this world. He lived and breathed dedication to improving the lives of people, whether they needed cleaner air to breathe or water to drink, medical care, food, shelter…whatever people’s needs are, Ted Kennedy worked tirelessly for those less fortunate than he. Someone on TV just noted his 1965 immigration bill – there are countless other pieces of legislation that bear his imprint, bear his sweat and hard work.

I believe that Ted Kennedy paid penance every day for everything he felt he needed to pay penance for. I believe that he cared more deeply for us all than most other people ever could. I believe he worked harder than anyone else could to push through legislation that will affect us all in the most important, significant, and best ways – pieces of legislation that we now often forget were his products.

As I’ve watched his career these past over-40 years, I have never ceased to be absolutely amazed at the amount of legislation, the policies he pushed through, often in the face of extreme adversity – but never flinching, never backing down.

I will mourn now, as I have long known I would. I have long dreaded this day. I will cry many tears, I will read and hear and watch all the tributes. I will take it all in. I will conduct my own memorial for him. But, more important, I will try to live by his model. I will today renew my vows to not let anything ever keep me from fighting the good fight, from waging the most difficult battles (reluctantly using war symbolism here, but it fits). He never backed down; and those of us similarly dedicated to the causes of peace and justice cannot, either.

He is my inspiration, and I today renew my vows of dedication to the cause in his steps.

Karen Porter, Esq., Director The Chester County Peace Movement, P.O. Box 1502, West Chester, PA 19380-1502; ccpeacemovement@aol.com, (610) 344-0228; check http://www.ccpeace.org (calendar) for upcoming events So meday, when my great-grandchildren ask, “Why didn’t someone try to stop the madness?” I hope my son and my grandchildren can answer, “Your great-grandmother tried, with all her hea rt.” See Progressive Network of Southeast PA http://www.progressivenetworksepa.org/ Your Key to the Progressive Community! CALL (800) 828-0498 for Senators/Congressional Rep. The woods are lovely, dark, and deep; but I have promises to keep , and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep. -Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

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