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Saying Goodbye to the Lion

August 30, 2009

Yesterday, I watched the funeral of Senator Kennedy while in the waiting room of the Toyota Dealer, which meant I had nowhere to go, nothing I could do other than watch, knit, and remember. Remember when I was young and President Kennedy was assassinated, the sorrow and shock; when I was older and Bobby was killed, the shock and anger. This Kennedy was put to rest after a long life, this was a celebration of his life, with his large family around him, saying goodbye to “Le Grand Fromage”. There were tears, laughter, homage and stories of a complex man; not a perfect human being by any means. A man of great wealth, who worked tirelessly for the less fortunate; a man of questionable decisions in his private life, who was a committed campaigner for the causes he felt strongly about; a dedicated and unabashed Liberal, willing to reach across the aisle and work with his best friend, the very conservative Orrin Hatch. As one of the women in our discussion group, HellCatBetty, said:

He was such an admirable man; passionate about the things he believed in (which I happen to agree with), but also a true American that believed that no matter what your beliefs/politics, The Constitution provides and protects the opportunity for you to express yourself.

He was the rallying cry for both parties, the conservative camp vowing to block him and his policies; the liberal camp vowing to back him in those same policies. We’ve forgotten that he learned to work with his opponents, while holding fast to his principles of aid to those in need. Another commenter in our discussion –

Ted had a few things in his past that bothered me, but I always loved that he was fighting for people who wouldn’t have had a voice otherwise. Through his family, wealth, and connections, he could have done whatever he wanted — looted Wall Street, lived off the family name and investments, whatever. Instead, he chose public service, to represent folks who weren’t anything like him, and I think that is awesome. I’ll miss him something terrible.

We didn’t avoid talking about Chappaquiddick, nor did he. His decisions that night were deplorable, wrong, and despicably foolish. His drinking bouts were legendary and idiotic, a weakness that he acknowledged in later life. Whether he only went into politics because of his father’s urging and because his brothers told him to, we don’t know. But it’s what he DID for the country, for the poor, the disabled and yes, the military, that counts for me.

There are many pages devoted to his legislative accomplishments and I culled the list below from many of them – but this is NOT the comprehensive list.

Civil Rights Act of 1991, Protection and Advocacy for Mentally Ill Individuals Act of 1986, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act of 1990, the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act of 1993, the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 1997, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 1997 (“HIPAA”), the Children’s Health Act of 2000, the Project BioShield Act of 2003, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2005, the FDA Amendments Act of 2007, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008. In 1972 he helped push the Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program (WIC. In 2000, the Public Health Threats and Emergencies Act and in 2002 the Bioterrorism Preparedness Act. 1992 Mammography Quality Standards Act, and in 2009 he introduced the 21st Century Cancer Access to Life-Saving Early detection, Research and Treatment (ALERT), in 2003 he helped make the Medicare changes to allow for more use of generic drugs. 2007 Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and the Civil Rights Act of 2008, which forbids the discrimination against men and women in uniform by their employers. The Immigration Act of 1965, and the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act of 2002. Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which became law in 1978. Early Head Start, created by Senator Kennedy in 1994. Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, and the TRIO programs for college students, Basic Educational Opportunity Grant (Pell Grants Thank you Ted) and Title IX, Workforce Investment Act of 1998, College Cost Reduction Act of 2007, Higher Education Opportunity Act in 2008. National and Community Service Trust Act of 1990, which established AmeriCorps in 1993, and the Serve America Act of 2009. Raised the minimum wage twice. Pension Protection Act of 2006. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, National Military Child Care Act of 1989, and introduced National Month of the Military Child in 2008. National Guard and Reserve Mental Health Access Act of 2008. 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, Crime Victims and Disabilities Awareness Act of 1998, The Rehabilitation, Comprehensive Services and Developmental Disabilities Amendments of 1978

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