Remembering the Life of Senator Ted Kennedy

Posted by Robert Lynch, Aug 26, 2009 2 comments

Senator Edward M. Kennedy was a titan for the arts, and I know the national arts community joins me in mourning his passing.

Ever since The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts was opened as a living memorial to the late president, Senator Kennedy has carried forth the arts and humanities legacy that his brother began.  He powerfully advocated the need to nurture creativity and to broaden access to artistic excellence in the U.S. Senate, and his leadership extended to co-founding and co-chairing the Senate Arts Caucus.

Throughout his work, he carried strong messages of freedom of expression, tolerance, and creative rights. He spoke staunchly of the central role of the federal government in supporting American cultural life, inspiring bipartisan cooperation among his colleagues. Senator Kennedy was the recipient of our own 1999 Congressional Arts Leadership Award, and in 2004, introduced his friend Doris Kearns Goodwin as our Nancy Hanks Lecturer on Arts and Public Policy at The Kennedy Center.

Each year for Arts Advocacy Day, he welcomed a small group of our advocates to his hideaway office on Capitol Hill and hosted a lunch that brought us together with Congressional leaders.  One year he even met up with us on the steps of Capitol Hill, enthusiastically joining in as Peter Yarrow led a rousing sing-a-long on behalf of the arts.

I’ve had the personal pleasure of working with Senator Kennedy on federal arts issues on a number of occasions, and as a native of Massachusetts and longtime admirer, let me say how deeply his warmth, humor, empathy, and fierce passion will be missed by me, as well as the board and staff of Americans for the Arts.  We are all diminished by his loss.

 

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2 responses for Remembering the Life of Senator Ted Kennedy

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August 26, 2009 at 4:02 pm

In a life that is littered with ironies, here's the biggest one of all: His three older brothers - Joe, Jack and Bobby - are eternally frozen in our imagination as the personifications of youth and vigor (or "vigah"). How poignant that our final image of the baby of that family will be as an old man, frail and mortally ill.

His was the most impressive evolution in American political history. Let's be honest; in 1962 the guy was a lightweight. He ran for the Democratic nomination against another young man, Edward McCormick, whose uncle was the speaker of the House of Representatives. During a debate McCormick told him that were it not for his name, his candidacy would be viewed as a joke. It was a point well made. It is obvious when looking at film of that campaign that our boy Ted is in way over his head.

Who would have dared dream all those years ago that this punk kid would one day evolve into the greatest senator ever to walk those halls?

An incredible realization just came to me: Teddy represented the state of Massachusetts for forty-six years, eight months and nineteen days. That is nearly three months longer than all the years his older brother Jack lived on earth. Forgive the cliche that is so overused it has become trite through repetition, but this really is the end of an era.

http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

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Greg Liakos says
August 27, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Bob, thank you for adding your voice to the tributes to Senator Kennedy. In 2005 the Senator addressed a gathering of more than 250 Massachusetts Cultural Council volunteers at the State House in Boston. In that address he expressed both his deeply personal relationship to the arts and his belief in the value of the work that artists and arts organizations do every day. He quoted from President Kennedy's famous 1963 speech at Amerhst College: "The nation which disdains the mission of art invites the fate of Robert Frost's hired man, the fate of having 'nothing to look backward to with pride, and nothing to look forward to with hope.'" Here is the link to the full transcript of his remarks and a video for anyone who is interested in reading more: http://www.massculturalcouncil.org/news/kennedy_remarks.html

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