EDWARD KENNEDY IS NO MORE

August 27th, 2009 by Ravi Matah | Posted in News   No Comments »
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The Lion of the Senate, Edward Kennedy is no more.  As per media reports, Sen. Edward Kennedy died late Tuesday at his home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, after a lengthy battle with brain cancer. He was 77.

Kennedy will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday afternoon, just a few feet from the graves of his brothers, as per CNN reports. 

Kennedy, nicknamed “Ted,” was the younger brother of slain President John F. Kennedy and New York Sen. Robert Kennedy, who was gunned down while seeking the White House in 1968.

 However, his own presidential aspirations were hobbled by the controversy around a 1969 auto accident that left a young woman dead, and a 1980 primary challenge to then-President Jimmy Carter ended in defeat.

He was “not only one of the greatest senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy,” President Obama said. He is presently on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

Holding back his tears on CNN TV news channel, Vice President Joe Biden said his family was “truly distressed” by Kennedy’s death. “We lost a truly remarkable man,” Biden said during an event in Washington. “He’s left a great void in our public life”.

Senator Ted Kennedy had always supported Barrack Obama during the days of his election campaign. “There is a new wave of change around us and I have come here tonight to stand with you to change America, to restore its future, to rise to our best ideals and to elect Barack Obama president of the United States,” Kennedy told fellow Democrats.

Kennedy’s early support for Obama was considered a boon for the candidate, who was locked in a tough primary battle against former first lady Hillary Clinton.

After a party for women who had worked on his brother Robert’s presidential campaign, Kennedy drove his car off a bridge on  Martha’s Vineyard. While Kennedy managed to escape, his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, drowned. Despite the dent in his reputation and career, Kennedy remained in American politics and went on to win seven more terms in the Senate.

Obama named Kennedy as one of 16 recipients of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.

The Kennedy clan has often been referred to as the ‘Cursed’ family. His oldest brother, Joe Jr., died in a plane crash during World War II when Kennedy was 12. John was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, in 1963, and Robert was killed the night of the California primary in 1968.

One sister, Kathleen, was killed in a plane crash in 1948. Another sister, Rosemary died in 2005. Joseph Kennedy was incapacitated by a stroke in 1961 and died in November 1969, leaving the youngest son as head of the family. He was 37.

His sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics, died August 11. The ailing senator was unable to attend her funeral. His mother, Rose Kennedy, died in Hyannis Port at age 104 in 1995.

Kennedy, the youngest of the nine children, himself survived a 1964 plane crash that killed an aide, suffering a broken back in the accident. Robert Kennedy’s son David died of a drug overdose in a Florida hotel in 1984; another of Robert’s sons, Michael, was killed in a skiing accident in Colorado in 1997; and John’s son John Jr., his wife Carolyn and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette died in a 1999 plane crash off Martha’s Vineyard.

The former President, George W. Bush, described Ted  as “a fabulous United States senator. When he’s against you, it’s tough. When he’s with you, it is a great experience.”

There is no political heir to Ted. For a brief time it looked like Caroline Kennedy, JFK’s daughter, might fit the bill. She had always appeared uninterested in a political career until last year when she backed Barack Obama and became co-chair of his vice presidential search committee. 

“As their generation dwindles, a six-decade chapter in America’s political and cultural history is coming to a close, posing the question,  “Is the Kennedy story ending as a public saga? If it isn’t, who will carry the torch now?” Now, “only one sister, Jean, survives the eight other Kennedy brothers and sisters from that towering generation.

Despite his ill-health and a brief period of  hospitalisation, Ted attended the swearing in ceremony of President elect Barrack Obama. As a mark of respect  for Late Senator Edward Kennedy, President Barrack has ordered the national flag to be flown at half mast at the White House.

Senator Kennedy’s departure from the polical arena will leave a void which will be hard to fill.

Ravi Matah

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