Edward Moore Kennedy, the third longest serving U.S. Senator in American history passed away early Wednesday morning after a yearlong battle with brain cancer. As the well known “Lion of the Senate”, Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, authored more than 2,500 bills throughout his career in the United States Senate. Of those bills, several hundred became Public Law.
Kennedy was born on February 22, 1932 in Brookline Massachusetts. He was the youngest of nine children, in a family that included a former U.S. President, John F. Kennedy, U.S. Attorney General and Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy and the founder of the Special Olympics, Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
In 1962, Ted Kennedy was elected to the Senate seat vacated when JFK won the presidency. Voters in Massachusetts would go on to elect him to the Senate nine times.
As word spread of his passing, individuals, elected officials and organizations from across the country and across the political aisle, issued statements on his passing. Here is what some of the many, said this week:
Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles
The voiceless, the powerless, and the most needy of our citizens have lost a great champion with the death of Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Even though he lived in the far northeast corner of our country, he had a deep and personal sense of the needs of the poorest across the land. He never tired in speaking up for them and their rights and needs.
His deep and personal commitment to causes affecting the poor and needy among us flowed from his deep Catholic faith, and the life and outreach of Jesus Christ. He knew well the words and command of Jesus found in the 25th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel.
My last collaboration with Senator Kennedy was in 2007 when he and Senator John McCain introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007… I marveled at his ability to work with Senators from both political parties, always open to listen and to find ways to accommodate their views and to craft compromises that would benefit those most in need…
Senator Kennedy never gave up on issues affecting the most needy citizens in our midst. He became their voice and their supporter regardless of misunderstanding and opposition. That same passion led him to fight energetically for health care reform to include all Americans, for quality public school education, for minimum wage and benefit provisions for all workers, for the farm workers of the country, and for those with disabilities…”
Los Angeles Mayor, Antoinio Villaraigosa
“Ted Kennedy was more than a Senator, he was an American legend. Born into one of our country’s most prominent families, Ted did not rest on his laurels, but instead forged his own political path.
As the ‘liberal lion’ of the Senate, he kept vigilant watch over the legislative body he so passionately served, as both a defender of social justice and a deal-maker who reached across the aisle to work with conservative colleagues.
He was the original change agent and we mourn his passing.
My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Vicki, his children, grandchildren, and all his family during this difficult time.”
Por John Podesta, Presidente y CEO, Center for American Progress
El movimiento progresista perdió un héroe el día de hoy, y el Center for American Progress perdió un amigo entrañable. El Senador Ted Kennedy sirvió sin tregua en el Senado para el estado de Massachusetts y la nación por más de cuatro décadas, poniendo todos sus esfuerzos en temas decisivos progresistas como la educación, la reforma inmigratoria, la lucha contra la pobreza, la expansión de los derechos civiles, y la labor de garantizar el cuidado de la salud para cada estadounidense. Cuando se trataba de extender su mano a través de partidos, crear compromisos y actuar en algo, el Senador Kennedy no tenía comparación.
Este gran hombre creó un puente entre el idealismo y la determinación de pasadas generaciones y ayudó a revivirla hoy por hoy. Su recuerdo vivirá en la generación de progresistas que él ha inspirado a través de los cambios que aportó en los Estados Unidos. Mantendremos a su familia en nuestros pensamientos y oraciones. Extrañaremos al Senador, de igual manera que lo hará nuestra nación.
U.S. Representative Xavier Becerra (CA-31)
“Last night, the Kennedys lost a beloved member of the family and our country lost a great American hero with the passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
“If you look at almost any major piece of legislation that helps children, seniors, immigrants, minorities, the disabled, the disadvantaged, you will find Senator Kennedy’s mark on it. His lifetime fight for those who could not speak for themselves inspired me and many in my generation to enter public service and work for change.
“His vision of America was one of justice, freedom and equality and he worked every day of his life for it, never losing faith in what we could achieve if we worked together.
“The best way to honor his legacy is to continue the fight for his dream. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, his children and the entire Kennedy family.”
U.S. Representative Judy Chu (CA-32)
“It was with great sadness that I heard of the passing of Sen. Ted Kennedy, the ‘Lion of the Senate.
“My fellow Congressmembers and I, and indeed our entire nation, have lost an irreplaceable and tenacious leader who always led by example, always stayed true to his principles, and always fought for what was right and just for all of our citizens.
“We will especially miss Senator Kennedy’s leadership as we work toward reforming our health care system, an issue that was near to his heart and one of his biggest legislative priorities. We owe it to Sen. Kennedy’s legacy to pass lasting, meaningful healthcare reform this year, and to ensure that his dream of stable, affordable and quality health coverage for all Americans becomes a reality.”
Republican National Hispanic Assembly National Chairman, Alci Maldonado
“In 47 years of service to our great nation, I am saddened by this loss. No one in Congress garnered as much respect from both sides of the aisle; crafting legislation by working with lawmakers and presidents of both parties.”
National Alliance of Latin America and Carribbean Communities (NALACC)
“Senator Kennedy was a stalwart defender and advocate for the rights of all people. He dedicated his entire political career to ensuring greater economic equity and social justice in the country that he loved and served so well.” Executive Director Oscar Chacón said. “In addition to fighting to lift the minimum wage for workers and ensuring that everybody had access to affordable and quality health care, Senator Kennedy was one of the most ardent advocates for a more humane and sensible immigration policy.”
“As the descendant of an immigrant Irish family, Senator Kennedy never forgot his immigrant roots and fought to ensure that the Statue of Liberty’s torch of promise continued to shine brightly for newer generations of immigrants coming to the United States seeking refuge and fulfillment to their hopes and dreams of a better life”, added Board President Angela Sanbrano.
Chacón concluded with the following statement. “We thank Senator Kennedy for his tireless efforts on behalf of the immigrant community and we deeply mourn his passing away. We convey our condolences to Senator Kennedy’s family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them in this time of sorrow. Senator Kennedy was an inspiration to us all for the steadfast, consistent and courageous way in which he held fast to his principles and vision. He will be missed.”
Declaración de Frank Sharry:
“El senador Kennedy fue nuestro héroe, nuestro líder y nuestra fortaleza. Por más de cuatro décadas fue la figura destacada en lograr que nuestras políticas migratorias y sobre refugiados fueran consistentes con los más profundos ideales estadounidenses.
Con su legislación migratoria de 1965, el senador Kennedy garantizó la reunificación familiar sin importar la raza, religión o el origen nacional. Con su Ley de Refugiados de 1980 garantizó la protección de los refugiados ya fuera en lejanos campamentos o en nuestro país. En recientes años peleó incansablemente por una reforma migratoria integral que habría concedido derechos y reconocimiento a 12 millones de trabajadores indocumentados y a sus familias que viven en nuestra nación sin gozar de esas protecciones.
Quienes tuvimos el honor de verlo trabajar de cerca, siempre recordaremos al hombre y no al personaje. Contrario a lo que suele ocurrir en la política, mientras más uno conocía al senador Kennedy, más lo quería. Su humanidad, humildad y generosidad eran contagiosas e inspiradoras.
Siempre entendió que él era el vehículo para avanzar las grandes causas. En un mundo político donde muchos se centran en cómo utilizar las batallas de política pública para aumentar su poder, el senador Kennedy se centró en usar su poder para ganar batallas de política pública.
El senador Kennedy no vivirá para ver la reforma migratoria integral convertirse en ley, pero gracias a sus encomiables esfuerzos, ya no se cuestiona si esa medida se aprobará sino cuándo. No estará presente en la ceremonia en la cual se promulgue esa reforma, pero indudablemente se sentirá su fuerte presencia.
Personalmente, cuando esa medida se promulgue, pensaré en uno de los momentos más electrizantes de la primavera del 2006. El senador Kennedy habló ante una manifestación de inmigrantes latinos en la zona de monumentos en Washington. Desde el podio, su amor por las 200,000 personas que tenía frente a sí era igualado por el amor de esas personas hacia el senador. La multitud enarbolaba banderas de Estados Unidos y el senador, con una voz todavía más fuerte de lo usual, preguntó: ¿Me ayudarán a defender la reforma migratoria? La multitud respondió al unísono que Sí. El senador preguntó: ¿Aman a Estados Unidos? Y el Sí de los presentes retumbó.
En ese instante, las 200,000 personas allí presentes, incluyéndome, reforzamos nuestro amor por Estados Unidos.
Ahora es nuestro deber completar su visión de un Estados Unidos que evoluciona constantemente hacia la unión más perfecta por la cual luchó durante toda su vida.”
California Attorney General Jerry Brown
“All through the years, Ted Kennedy has been a voice for the voiceless, fighting injustice and championing compassion and equality. America has lost a wonderful human being.”
California State Senator Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles)
“Senator Kennedy’s legacy runs throughout the American experience. In governance, in service, with family, and faith Ted Kennedy has set an example that will survive generations. It’s difficult to express our gratitude in words and so it must be done with our actions. While the face may change, the resonance of the dream lives on in each of us.”
A staunch advocate for national healthcare reform for more than forty years Senator Kennedy is also responsible for many reforms that are the cornerstone of our democracy. Among them – the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, the COBRA Act of 1985, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Hart-Celler Act of 1965, the Ryan White AIDS Care Act in 1990, the Civil Rights Act of 1991, and legislation raising the federal minimum wage.