Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Lion Slept Last Night: Remembering Senator Ted Kennedy

GREATER NEW YORK - Saddened and profoundly touched by the news that the Liberal Lion (of the Senate) slept last night, I feel compelled to jot a few words remembering prolific, highly accomplished Senator Edward Moore Kennedy (D-Massachusetts). Personal politics, opinions about Citizen Ted's private life - and even nationality - notwithstanding, it's well-nigh impossible for any adult on the planet to be unaffected.

Personal recollections tend to be egocentric; mine are no exceptions. For instance, as a Veterans History Project Official Partner/New York, I am extremely interested in the experiences and contributions of America's military servicemen and women. That includes the Kennedy brothers.

As did older brothers Joe, Jr. (who made the ultimate sacrifice), Jack, and Bobby (all of whom served in the Navy), Ted served in the United States military (Army, 1951-1953). Later, during his 43 years in the United States Senate, the handsomest Kennedy brother (and perhaps the most controversial) actively addressed military issues, such as cheating on promotional exams, armor issues, and military blogs.

A more poignant memory of the tireless, influential public servant and one of America's most famous Irishmen was made the day I graduated from Harvard. After receiving my diploma, I'd stood on the crowded steps at Dunster House, scanning the crowd. "Where's that Ted?" I complained to my roommate, whose beau had promised to snap our photos.

Unbeknownst to me, Ted Kennedy was standing immediately behind me. He stepped up close, and when I turned around, he smiled mischievously, stuck out his hand, and said something like, "Hi, I'm Ted Kennedy. How do you work that camera?"

Hence, one of the first utterances by this newly minted Ivy Leaguer: "Humina, humina, humina!"###