Ted Kennedy is dead, but “the dream shall never die”

August 26, 2009

Now we know why Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts wrote the state’s governor to urge a change in law to allow a quick appointment of a caretaking successor — Kennedy’s vote could be crucial to legislation in the next few weeks.

Kennedy died last night, felled by brain cancer.

He served longer in the U.S. Senate than all but five other people.  His legislative history on civil rights alone maks him one of the top four or five legislators ever to serve in America — and that ignores his legislation on voting, health care, labor issues, environment, and other places.

There will be tributes to Kennedy over the next few days.  Electronic media being what it is, there will be too many jeers of Kennedy, too.

It’s worth remembering that Kennedy was a gracious man, and that even in defeat himself he could rally others to victory and inspiration.  His speech at the 1980 Democratic National Convention ranks as one of the 100 best speeches in American history, and it is fitting now.

And someday, long after this convention, long after the signs come down and the crowds stop cheering, and the bands stop playing, may it be said of our campaign that we kept the faith.

May it be said of our Party in 1980 that we found our faith again.

And may it be said of us, both in dark passages and in bright days, in the words of Tennyson that my brothers quoted and loved, and that have special meaning for me now:

“I am a part of all that I have met
To [Tho] much is taken, much abides
That which we are, we are —
One equal temper of heroic hearts
Strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end.

For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.

We can hope.  We do hope.

Conservatives appear to love to criticize the man.  They are jealous that they had no one like him to carry their banner.

(Audio of the convention speech is here, at American Rhetoric.)

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