FULL SPEECH: Ted Kennedy, Jr. Pays Tribute to His Father and Recalls His Encouragement After Amputation

He believed that in order to know what to do in the future, you had to understand the past.

My father loved other old things. He loved his classic wooden schooner, the Mya. He loved light houses and his 1973 Pontiac convertible.

My father taught me to treat everyone I meet, no matter what station in life, with the same dignity and respect. He could be discussing arms control with the president at 3 p.m. and meeting with a union carpenter for -- on fair wage legislation or a New Bedford fisherman on fisheries policy at 4:30.

I once told him that he had accidentally left some money -- I remember this when I was a little kid -- on the sink in our hotel room. And he replied, Teddy, let me tell you something, making beds all day is back breaking work. The woman who has to clean up after us today has a family to feed. And just -- that's just the kind of guy he was.

He answered Uncle Joe's call to patriotism, Uncle Jack's call to public service, and Bobby's determination to seek a newer world. Unlike them, he lived to be a grandfather. And knowing what my cousins have been through, I feel grateful that I have had my father as long as I did.

He even taught me some of life's harder lessons, such as how to like Republicans. He once told me -- he said Teddy, Republicans love this country just as much as I do. I think that he felt like he had something in common with his Republican counterparts, the vagaries of public opinion, the constant scrutiny of the press, the endless campaigning for the next election. But most of all, the incredible shared sacrifice that being in public life demands.

He understood the hardship that politics has on a family and the hard work and commitment that it requires. He often brought his Republican colleagues home for dinner. And he believed in developing personal relationships and honoring differences.

And one of the wonderful experiences that I will remember today is how many of his Republican colleagues are sitting here right before him. That's a true testament to the man.

And he always told me that -- always be ready to compromise, but never compromise on your principles. He was an idealist and a pragmatist. He was restless, but patient. When he learned that a survey of Republican senators named him the Democratic legislator they most wanted to work with and that John McCain called him the single most effective member of the U.S. Senate, he was so proud, because he considered the combination of accolades from your supporters and respect from your sometime political adversaries as one of the ultimate goals of a successful political life.

At the end of his life, my dad returned home. He died at the place he loved more than any other, Cape Cod. The last months of my dad's life were not sad or terrifying, but full -- filled with profound experiences, a series of moments more precious than I could have imagined.

He taught me more about humility, vulnerability, and courage than he had taught me in my whole life.

Although he lived a full and complete life by any measure, the fact is, he wasn't done. He still had work to do. He was so proud of where we had recently come as a nation. And although I do grieve for what might have been, for what he might have helped us accomplish, I pray today that we can set aside this sadness and instead celebrate all that he was and did and stood for.

I will try to live up to the high standard that my father set for all of us when he said, the work goes on; the cause endures; the hope still lives; and the dream shall never die.

I love you, dad. I always will. And I miss you already.

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8443171. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8443171. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8443171. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8443171. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8443171. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8443171. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8443171.
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...