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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Our Friend Teddy Kennedy


You can read all you want about the achievements of Senator Teddy Kennedy all over the internet and news blogs and get more information than I could ever supply. This is just a personal thought on what the man meant to me. Some people have called Teddy the Liberal Lion of the United States Senate and that was a badge of honor he never shied from regarding the context or use of the title. He didn’t care what people thought of him but he made people care about what he thought was right for America. And in that mission, he never failed.

My dad was a WWII U.S. Navy veteran and a Korea veteran. He earned many a medals during his time in service to his nation and the greatest being a Purple Heart for having his leg scattered with shrapnel on Iwo Jima. Dad was a medic and he was caring for a downed Marine at the time of his injury. Eventually, he was glad to see that he didn’t lose his leg but he continued serving his country.

Dad always kept his medals and ribbons in the top drawer of his bedroom dresser and as kids will do, we thought they were cool. Seven kids, lots of pretty ribbons, medals, and the memories that were dad’s for the most part vanished with seven curious kids. Being a WWII history buff, reading every first edition book there was on the subject he could have taught a college class on it. Dad wanted to display his medals in a proper manner and found most if not all gone with the passing of time. Dad spent two plus years contacting the Navy, the VA, anyone in the military that might be able to help him replace all of his medals. At each contact he was stonewalled or not replied to at all. He had given up for the most part on ever seeing them again and it showed at times but he just figured nobody gave a crap about an old veteran.

My mother called Senator Kennedy’s office at the suggestion of a friend and was asked to simply mail a copy of Dad’s discharge papers from WWII and Korea. Two weeks later a box arrived in the mail from Senator Kennedy’s office with every medal Dad had earned in service to his country. My brother had them mounted around a picture of my father in his navy uniform as young man. It brought back so many memories for Dad and had him very emotionally shaken. That picture with all the medals was displayed at dad’s funeral and it was something to be very proud of. It now is proudly displayed on my living room wall. Right next to the picture of Grampa Jack and two of my baby girls.

Being a Senator isn’t always about giving the greatest speeches or standing strong for your beliefs. Sometimes its just about touching one persons heart by one simple little deed. And yet, many of the things that Teddy did for America, many people take for granted as the way it has always been. So not true. Their but for the grace of God traveled the Liberal Lion continuing and finishing the battles his brothers could not.

Rest in peace Teddy, we love ya and we will miss ya.


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Blogger Pink Granite said...

This is a wonderful tribute both to your Dad's military service and Senator Kennedy.
This example of Teddy getting things done, cutting through the red tape and taking care of his constituents highlights the personal touch which was a hallmark of his years as our senator.
Many thanks.
- Lee

12:05 AM  
Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

It has been said too many times that he never lived up to his potential, that he will forever be overshadowed by his two brothers. I disagree. Given the limited time that fate would allow them, their legacies are decidedly eclipsed by their little brother's. As John Meacham said this morning on the Morning Joe program, "He certainly belongs in the company of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster." As legislators, Jack and Bobby aren't even in Teddy's league. It's not even close.

So many "red state Americans" who regarded him with suspicion if not outright hatred, will probably never even realize how much they owe Senator Kennedy. It's kind of sad that a lot of the people Kennedy worked the hardest for despised him with a passion born of decades of anti-Kennedy propaganda. Nothing was handier for a Republican running in a conservative district than the image of Bogeyman Ted in a campaign ad. It usually worked.


I wonder how these people would react if tomorrow - just for a day, mind you - every law Teddy Kennedy is responsible for were made null and void. Call it a hunch but I have a strong feeling that more people than you might suspect are going to miss him now that he's gone.

Teddy, they hardly knew ye!

We're a better country because for seventy-seven years Teddy Kennedy walked amongst us. His impact on the country he loved so much will be felt for generations. The loss his passing means to progressive politics in the United States is incalculable. We need him at this moment in history more than we ever needed him before. It's so unspeakably sad. He's gone and he's not coming back. Now he belongs to the ages.

In the good old Irish Catholic tradition, tonight I'll be drinking a toast or two (or twelve) to you, Ted. Sleep well and thanks.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

6:55 AM  
Blogger Sue said...

Mat this is such a touching story, I am in tears again! Those who need to spew hate don't even stop to think of all the achievments of Ted, he was the most outstanding Senator of our lifetime. There will never be anyone quite like him again, a huge loss for our country when we needed him so bad!
I don't know why but I thought you were from Vermont! Have a great day hon! xo

7:16 AM  
Blogger by Michael Boh said...

I met Teddy while working in the Senate. I always thought of him as one of my political heros, but he impressed me even more in person. I will always remember him and his contributions. Thank you for your great work Teddy! We will miss you. My condolences to your family. Rest in peace - Michael

8:48 AM  
Blogger Sue said...

hi sweetie, how are ya today? every time I go to my blog I start crying again listening to the music, Abraham, Martin and John. Its such a beautiful song! Don't forget to watch Matthews special on Hardball tonight. Love ya sweetie!!

4:56 PM  
Blogger Papamoka said...

Hey Sue, I'm going to have send you a case of Kleenex. I'll be watching Chris tonight. I saw the special he did last night and I was touched by it.

I felt honored to get a personal email from President Obama last night. Granted it was because I was active in his campaign but it was a nice email.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

you got a personal email??? Wow how fabulous is that! Yes I could use that box of tissues, you know by now I am a crier! xo

7:36 PM  
Blogger Papamoka said...

It was a letter written by the President from his campaign to people in the state that worked for his campaign for president. It probably wasn't meant just for me but that would have been cool wouldn't it? I'll forward it to you.

8:04 PM  
Blogger B.J. said...

We never forget such kindnesses.

Many Americans don’t realize their senators and representative are there to represent them and are quick to honor requests.

My late brother-in-law, also Navy in WWII, always sang the praises of longtime Mississippi Senator John C. Stennis for help rendered after he returned to civilian life.

As you said, Mat, there are plenty of words written about Ted’s life and career, but it’s stories like yours which get to the heart of the matter.

Nice job.


P.S. Excellent comment, Tom Degan. You are so right about the people on the right who hated Ted Kennedy being the very people he helped most.

1:09 AM  
Blogger Sue said...

Mornin Matty, wasn't last nights service beautiful!! I cried and at times laughed so hard! Everyone had the most wonderful and moving stories of LOVE and friendship, and family, I was just overcome with emotion! What a loss we will experience. I hope the next generation of Kennedys will follow in his footsteps, we need good people like them! xoxo

8:15 AM  
Blogger Papamoka said...

What you saw Friday night was a typical Irish wake where everyone is encouraged to tell a story, some sad, some full of belly laughs.

I haven't been online at all during the last few days since I wrote this post. I couldn't write anything new if I wanted to. Just as I was gaining my wind in my sails his passing took the breeze away. Teddy meant alot to us up here in the Bay State and he left his mark on many peoples lives. It's almost like I lost a brother and it's very personal and very close to home.

hugs at ya Sue.

9:57 PM  

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