That's an odd thing for a Baby Boomer like me to type. I was born in 1961, which means I have no memory whatsoever of a time when Edward M. Kennedy, elected in 1962, was not a U.S. senator from Massachusetts.
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Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate who lost two of his brothers to assassins' bullets, has died after battling a brain tumor. He was 77.I'VE NEVER BEEN a total fan of the man, to tell the truth. When I was three decades younger, I would have agreed with the senator on social issues like abortion and disagreed vehemently with his liberal prescriptions for issues such as health care.
For nearly a half-century in the Senate, Kennedy was a steadfast champion of the working class and the poor, a powerful voice on health care, civil rights, and war and peace. To the American public, though, he was best known as the last surviving son of America's most glamorous political family, the eulogist of a clan shattered again and again by tragedy.
His family announced his death in a brief statement released early Wednesday.
"We've lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever," the statement said. "We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all."
Three decades later, Kennedy was the same and I was changed. In recent years, I found myself in agreement with his liberal political instincts and quite opposed to his libertarian social ones.
Nevertheless, he had my respect for his political longevity, as well as for his passion for public service.
But politics -- and agreements or disagreements -- don't much matter now, do they?
WHAT MATTERS NOW is that Edward Kennedy was -- is -- a child of God. He is loved by God. He loved his family and friends. They loved him, and his passing diminishes us all.
That's what matters. God bless the senator and his family, and may God rest his soul.