Kennedy’s Friends, Colleagues Mourn Passing
Even though it was in the early hours of Wednesday morning when word of Sen. Edward Kennedy's death broke, the outpouring of tributes from friends, family and Senate colleagues was immediate. Already congressional Democratic leaders are vowing to make Kennedy's unfulfilled dream of sweeping new health care legislation his legacy.
"As we mourn his loss, we rededicate ourselves to the causes for which he so dutifully dedicated his life," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Then, echoing a famous line from Kennedy's celebrated 1980 speech to the Democratic National Convention, Reid added: "The liberal lion's mighty roar may now fall silent, but his dream shall never die."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Ca., was more explicit. "Ted Kennedy's dream of quality health care for all Americans will be made real this year because of his leadership and his inspiration," she said.
To Democrats, Kennedy represents the party's liberal ideals. Pelosi hailed his "grand vision for America, and an unparalleled ability to effect change." Reid considers it "the thrill of my lifetime to work with Ted Kennedy," whose legacy of social legislation he hailed in his statement.
"Because of Ted Kennedy, more young children could afford to become healthy," Reid said. "More young adults could afford to become students. More of our oldest citizens and our poorest citizens could get the care they need to live longer, fuller lives. More minorities, women and immigrants could realize the rights our founding documents promised them."
It was not only members of his own party mourning Kennedy's passing.
To California's Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, he was "Uncle Teddy."
Here's the complete statement from the governor, who is married to Kennedy's niece, Maria Shriver:
Maria and I are immensely saddened by the passing of Uncle Teddy. He was known to the world as the Lion of the Senate, a champion of social justice, and a political icon.
Most importantly, he was the rock of our family: a loving husband, father, brother and uncle. He was a man of great faith and character.
Teddy inspired our country through his dedication to health care reform, his commitment to social justice, and his devotion to a life of public service.
I have personally benefitted and grown from his experience and advice, and I know countless others have as well.
Teddy taught us all that public service isn't a hobby or even an occupation, but a way of life and his legacy will live on.
Sen. Bob Bennett, a Utah Republican, summed up the way Kennedy won over colleagues despite political differences. "I grew to appreciate the depth of his commitment to his country and his principles," Bennett said in a statement. "It's clear to all that the Senate has lost an icon whose lifetime of service will be long remembered."