When I grew up the name Ted Kennedy was synonymous with everything that was wrong with America. Even though he was a Catholic, he was shorthand for all of the liberal secular humanists who were trying to turn America away from God and marginalize god-fearing Christians. It was not until I was an adult that I came to admire Sen. Kennedy as an extraordinary human being.
I'm sure we will all get a chance in the coming days to read all about Kennedy's many accomplishments, but what speaks to me the most about his life is the idea of redemption. We all know that Ted Kennedy was a flawed human being; he was capable of fucking up in a truly spectacular manner. What I admire about him were his choices to carry on and fight the good fight anyway.
At least twice in his life, after his brothers' assassinations and after Chappaquiddick, he could have thrown in the towel and no one would be blamed him for doing so. He could have decided not to put his life on the line for another gunman. He could have decided it was not worth salvaging his reputation. He could have lived a life of entitled frivolity, jet-setting and yachting for the rest of his days, but he didn't. Few characters in the American drama have come back from these set-backs and achieved greatness by working tirelessly for other.
This is the Ted Kennedy that I will miss. We are all flawed people, and his life is a example and a testament to continuing on with a noble purpose in spite of all our flaws. We are all capable of moving past our personal grief and addictions to do what we see needs to be done. There are no excuses. There is no one whose life is washed-up, who does not have an opportunity to make something good of themselves. We all can be redeemed. Obviously Kennedy was born with many benefits, but we all have our own gifts even if our backgrounds are not so grand. I wish that when I die, I might have effected so much good and helped as many people as he did.
Here's to Senator Edward Moore Kennedy. He will be missed.