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by Senator John Kerry
There's a revealing contradiction in this photographic project because the life, the liberalism, the love, and the loss -- the story of Ted Kennedy -- has never stopped at the frame's edge.
The Kennedy family will forever be associated with the words of Tennyson; but perhaps more than any other, it's Ted who gave new life to the old poet's line, "I am a part of all that I have met." No portrait of Ted Kennedy is complete without all those whose lives are forever enriched by his life's work -- the sick, the poor, the elderly, the disabled -- for whom, as the Boston Globe once declared, "in actual, measurable impact on the lives of tens of millions of working families...Ted belongs in the same sentence with Franklin Roosevelt."
And there's something unmistakably genuine, beautifully private, wholly authentic -- that word overused in American politics but thoroughly Ted in every way -- in the fact that this giant touched so many of those lives when the cameras were nowhere to be found. There are countless stories of friends who, facing a grim diagnosis, found Ted Kennedy personally working the phones to doctors across the globe on their behalf; of political adversaries and ideological opposites who benefited from Ted's compassion, men like George Wallace, who found Ted Kennedy intimately involved in his rehabilitation from a paralyzing gunshot wound; and the folks Ted met along the way -- the child in a wheelchair whose hand Ted held for a long while in the hall of the Russell Senate Office Building on his way to a vote; the old man from Leominster, Massachusetts, oxygen tank by his bedside, whom Ted stopped to sit with in the hospital time after time; and, yes, the straggly haired, angry Vietnam vets facing possible arrest and political threats from the Nixon administration, whom Ted visited in April 1971, while other prominent politicians stayed away.
To appreciate fully the greatness of Senator Ted Kennedy is to understand that behind each snapshot, there has always been a heroic steadfastness. Behind the liberal lion who roared -- gloriously -- "the dream shall never die" is a lifetime spent in tireless service to the creed that "circumstances may change, but the work of compassion must continue." Day after day, decade after decade, Ted Kennedy has lived and legislated according to this creed, amassing a record of groundbreaking legislation equal to that of any United States senator in 232 years of American history.
Behind each flash photograph of Ted smiling, surrounded by dignitaries, heads of state, fellow politicians, brothers and sisters, cousins and nephews, there are countless stories of dear and faithful friendship. On Inauguration Day 2005, it was Teddy and Vicki who arrived first at my family's home in Washington and lightened a day we'd all hoped might have been different. Each photograph of a warm embrace is testament to a friend who was always there by our side when the sun wasn't shining, but who seemed always -- for our benefit -- to have the sunlight in his face, that beaming smile and unmistakable baritone. Among his not-so-secret weapons have always been great humility, good humor, and a genuine affection for friends and strangers alike. His brother Robert once said that "all great questions must be raised by great voices." Ted's singing notwithstanding, the cause of American idealism knows no greater voice than that of this youngest Kennedy brother.
These photos capture his journey from the youngest of nine children to the patriarch and custodian of American liberalism and also our nation's journey from the "new frontier" to "new hope" to "the audacity of hope." It is the long, impressive, and enduring story of a great American life.
John F. Kerry has represented Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate since 1985 and was the Democratic nominee for president in 2004. A high school volunteer for Kennedy's first Senate race in 1962, Kerry became reacquainted with Senator Kennedy in 1971 as a Vietnam veteran testifying against the war before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In January 2009, Kerry became the committee's chairman. Copyright © 2009 by the Boston Globe