From Chan Lowe ’75.
From Derek Catsam ’93:
I grew up in New Hampshire, so Kennedy was never literally my Senator, but for all intents and purposes he was the Senator who represented me, a liberal, in a state that was during the 1980s as solidly Republican as ever there was. I was stunned when I read about his death even when it was obvious for months that this moment was coming. I had to compose myself for a second, before diving in to read and remember why Ted Kennedy was such a vital figure in American political life for four decades.
Also from Catsam:
South Africa in the 1980s might well mark the most sustained American engagement with an African issue. It is easy to forget just how regularly South Africa appeared on the nightly news (kids, ask your parents) and how many column issues the tumult occupied, especially once the Vaal Triangle uprising in the last third of 1984 set off arguably the most intense sustained period of anti-apartheid activity. And Ted Kennedy was among the voices of conscience who translated those words intom concrete action. Kennedy was not alone, nor was he even the most important driving force behind the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1985. But it was one of hundreds of issues on which Kennedy took leadership in his long career. He truly was a giant in American political life.
Hamba kahle, Senator Kennedy.
From Chap Petersen ’90:
In my parents’ lifetime, the election of John F. Kennedy as President was a seminal event — a younger generation taking control of a nation’s destiny. The life and death of Robert F. Kennedy was on the same historic arc. He had a vision for the nation that was bigger and broader than it had been.
My siblings and I came of age in a different era, perhaps more cynical. The brand name “Kennedy” did not have the same magic. Those who tried to capitalize politically on that name in the last ten years have largely failed. Political dynasties do not last forever in this country and that’s a good thing.
No matter. Ted Kennedy was able to span both eras, literally. He was there when “liberalism” was all the rage. And he was there when it was hopelessly out of fashion. Either way, he fought the good fight. He finished the race. He kept the faith.
Sam Crane posts a Mencian thought:
If you want to put my words into practice, why not return to fundamentals? When every five-acre farm has mulberry trees around the farmhouse, people wear silk at fifty. And when the proper seasons of chickens and pigs and dogs are not neglected, people eat meat at seventy. When hundred-acre farms never violate their proper seasons, even large families don’t go hungry. Pay close attention to the teaching in village schools, and extend it to the child’s family responsibilities – then, when their silver hair glistens, people won’t be out on the roads and paths hauling heavy loads. Our black-haired people free of hunger and cold, wearing silk and eating meat in old age – there has never been such times without a true emperor.
From Dan Blatt ’85:
He may have been a liberal, but, as the years passed, he did not treat his political adversaries as enemies, instead he saw many as colleagues who, though coming from different political and philosophical perspectives, were fighting the same fight, seeking to achieve the same goal–the welfare and well-being of the United States of America and its people.
He was, as we all are, flawed, but, in the hour of his passing, let us remember his strengths. And they were many.
From commenter nuts:
Ephs who respect Ted Kennedy might enjoy listening to his eulogy for his brother Bobby. I have a great admiration for Ted’s compassion, his vision of public service and his ability to express himself in a powerful way.
David Kaiser writes a fascinating essay about Kennedy in historical perspective – an extract:
But the big news this week, of course, is the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, which has affected me far more than I would have thought. Of the three Kennedy brothers who at least made it to 30 he was the one I had not studied in detail, and I had never regarded him as presidential timber. His loss is however a shock because he is the only political figure of whom I had been continuously aware for more than 49 years, since I began reading about the Kennedy family in the 1960 campaign. He has been in the US Senate since I was 15, and he is a link, in many ways, to the more distant past. I shall now try to place him generationally and historically.
Two things about Teddy stand out in historical perspective: he belonged to what Strauss and Howe called an Artist or adaptive generation–those who spend their childhoods in periods of great crisis–and he was for decades a critical figure in our national legislature who never became President. The previous analogous generations in our national life were the Compromise generation, born in the last third of the eighteenth century, and the Progressive generation, born from about 1842 to 1862. It is in the Compromise generation, I think, that Kennedy’s closest analogues can be found, specifically Henry Clay of Kentucky and John Quincy Adams from his own Massachusetts.
Feel free to add your own thoughts in thread.