Ted Kennedy Jr., the 47-year-old eldest son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, delivered remarks at his father's funeral Saturday at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Roxbury, Mass. Below is a full transcript of his speech:
My name is Ted Kennedy Jr., a name I share with my son, a name I shared with my father. Although it hasn't been easy at times to live with this name, I've never been more proud of it than I am today.
Your Eminence, thank you for being here. You've graced us with your presence. To all the musicians who have come here, my father loved the arts and he would be so pleased for your performances today.
My heart is filled. And I first want to say thank you. My heart is filled with appreciation and gratitude to the people of Massachusetts, my father's loyal staff, who -- in many ways my dad's loss is just as great for them as it is for those of us in our family. And to all of my father's family and friends who have come to pay their respects.
Listening to people speak about how my father impacted their lives and the deep personal connection that people felt with my dad has been an overwhelming emotional experience.
My dad had the greatest friends in the world. All of you here are also my friends, and his greatest gift to me. I love you just as much as he did.
Sarah Brown, Beticia (ph), President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, President Bush, President Carter, you honor my family by your presence here today.
I remember how my dad would tell audiences years ago, I don't mind not being president; I just mind that someone else is.
There is much to say and much will be said about Ted Kennedy, the statesman, the master of the legislative process and bipartisan compromise, work horse of the Senate, beacon of social justice, and protector of the people.
There's also much to be said and much will be said about my father, the man, the story teller, the lover of costume parties, the practical joker, the accomplished painter.
He was a lover of everything French, cheese, wine, and women. He was a mountain climber, navigator, skipper, tactician, airplane pilot, rodeo rider, ski jumper, dog lover and all around adventurer.
Our family vacations left us all injured and exhausted.
He was a dinner table debater and devil's advocate. He was an Irishman, and a proud member of the Democratic party.
Here is one you may not know. Out of Harvard, he was a Green Bay Packers recruit, but decided to go to law school instead. He was a devout Catholic, whose faith helped him survive unbearable losses, and whose teaching teachings taught him that he had a moral obligation to help others in need.
He was not perfect, far from it. But my father believed in redemption. And he never surrendered, never stopped trying to right wrongs, be they the results of his own failings or of ours.
But today I'm simply compelled to remember Ted Kennedy as my father and my best friend. When I was 12 years old, I was diagnosed with bone cancer. And a few months after I lost my leg, there was a heavy snowfall over my childhood home outside of Washington D.C. And my father went to the garage to get the old Flexible Flyer, and asked me if I wanted to go sledding down the steep driveway.