How grand and ineffably uplifting are these larger-than-life comets that streak across our lives and illuminate our journeys from obstacles and oppression to happiness and hope. When they pass, and the light of their life dims, we find ourselves in a much better place than we otherwise would have thought even possible. Whether it was Ted Kennedy’s destiny to be such a figure or whether he earned it by dint of hard work, good nature and, yes, more than his share of errors in judgment, the tributes that flow to his name today demonstrate that he was one of the more remarkable figures of our time.
It is perhaps never terribly surprising so see men and women who are blessed with name, wealth and family connections follow a path in pursuit of more wealth. What is surprising is when such people put their career and professional treasure in the service of the less blessed, the poor and the people who may not even have known a parent. In his quest for universal heath care, education reform and a better minimum wage for the working forgotten, Senator Kennedy was an uncommon champion.
In the 1970s, I had an interest in a survey research company based in Toronto. The company decided to poll university students across Canada for their views on the most popular leaders at the time. Ted Kennedy topped the poll. We were delighted after the results were published to receive a call from the Senator’s Washington office asking for a copy. We hoped it gave him a chuckle to know that he touched so many youthful minds even beyond the American border.
He was a political touchstone for at least one generation. It will be interesting to see who for the next emerges in that role. Someone will. For in the cause of great achievement and noble deeds the words of Ted Kennedy will always illuminate and set the course:
The work goes on. The cause endures. The hope still lives. And the dream shall never die.