As the world celebrates the life and accomplishments of Senator Kennedy, the timeless legislator and statesman, we remember him as a passionate advocate of innumerable causes, which ignited a national spirit of service, uplifted children and families in greatest need and enriched the lives of the sick and disabled.
While Senator Kennedy was born into great privilege and opportunity, he, like the rest of the Kennedy family dedicated his life to public service, and to fighting for the underserved and the voiceless. In fact, his own life’s journey – though difficult at times – helped to shine a light on so many things he strived and cared for.
As our friend Michael Brown of City Year reflected this morning on Boston’s WBUR radio, “…it was clear that Sen. Kennedy saw something like City Year and more largely national service as something that just embodied his very being.” Most recently, the Senator’s impact on the service movement was felt through his steadfast work across party lines to pass the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which expands and improves service opportunities for all Americans, aims to harness social innovation toward public good, and ensures accountability, transparency and results. Jean had the honor of attending the signing of the bill by President Obama, at which the both the Senator and President spoke about the importance of service as a key tool to solving some of our nation’s most pressing problems.
Sen. Kennedy was also a champion for cancer research, a cause that is close to our hearts. In May 2008, just two weeks before his own diagnosis with brain cancer, the Senator invited Steve to testify at a hearing he chaired on the need to redouble our nation’s efforts to fight cancer, at which Steve was able to talk about his brother’s diagnosis with the disease, and the need for a more integrative, personalized and networked approach to research which served as the impetus for founding Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (ABC2).
Beyond national and local service, cancer research and healthcare, Senator Kennedy inspired millions to public service, created pathways for public and private support of our most effective human service organizations, and demonstrated by example that no matter our personal backgrounds, we can find common ground and we can work together as fellow citizens and advocates to make our neighbor’s lives a little easier and the world a little better than we found it.
Our friends at ServiceNation have created a great tribute to the Senator, with a collection of the news coverage and some great videos celebrating the Senator’s life.
And while we mourn his passing, the legacy left by Ted Kennedy is no better said than in his own words: “The work goes on – the cause endures – the hope still lives – and the dreams shall never die.”