Sunday, August 30, 2009

President Obama leads US political elite at Senator Ted Kennedy's funeral

Obama called him, "the heir to a weighty legacy", "a champion to those who had none" and, "the soul of the Democratic party."

As Obama pointed out, Kennedy had the option, because of his wealth, to live his life in the shadows; but that was not the choice he made.

He chose to always stand up for those weaker than himself. To dedicate his life to making the lives of others better.

I found it strange watching this funeral to see President Bush, looking spectacularly awkward, sitting amongst the other former presidents. Here was another man born into great privilege, a man who rose to high office and who used his time in office to cut the taxes of the rich, to look after those as privileged as himself, rather than make any attempt to look out for those less fortunate than himself.

The contrast between Bush and the man being buried could not have been more stark.

When he first came to the Senate in 1962, he was dismissed as a rather dim playboy who had got a free pass to the seat vacated by his newly elected president brother. It was a privilege that left him with much to prove. And he did, going on to become, as people have said repeatedly this week, the most influential, most consequential Democratic senator of the 20th century.

Kennedy's imprint is left on a broad array of legislation, from civil rights in the mid-1960s to women's rights, voting rights, health and education; he altered the lives of people with disabilities, people with Aids, working people whose families were sick.

Teddy Kennedy lived a good life, a life in which he used every advantage which had been bestowed upon him to try to make life a little easier for the millions and millions who did not share his position of privilege.

He finally managed to escape the enormous shadow of his brothers and establish a record that stood on it's own. And, when one considers the enormity of the shadow which JFK and Bobby cast, one realises just what a tremendous achievement that was.
"We do not weep for him today because of the prestige attached to his name or his office," Mr Obama said with three former US president's looking on. "We weep because we loved this kind and tender hero who persevered through pain and tragedy – not for the sake of ambition or vanity; not for wealth or power; but only for the people and the country he loved."
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