I was glued to the TV this weekend, saying farewell to an American patriot. I know the end of human life is inevitable but oh how I wished Senator Ted Kennedy could have remained just a little bit longer.
Like most Americans, I admired the Kennedy family from afar and their compassion had far-reaching effects. President John Kennedy sent troops to the Deep South and protected the civil rights of my relatives. Senator Robert Kennedy transformed my beloved Bedford Stuyvesant Brooklyn community into a successful economic empowerment zone that created jobs and stability. We always looked forward to the annual ice skating party that was organized by Mrs. Ethel Kennedy even after that horrendous assassination. Because of Kennedy’s vision, the price of a Bed Stuy brownstone in today’s market begins at one-half-million dollars.
My introduction to the magic of Senator Edward Kennedy began in medical school during the early eighties when my former Assistant Dean, Dr. Van Dunn, resigned from BU to become the senator’s Senior Policy Advisor. Senator Kennedy was full engaged and committed to healthcare reform and Dr. Dunn had the privilege of helping him. Kennedy’s name re-emerged during the early nineties when I was working in a small southwest Louisiana community. Towns were buzzing for miles around about the marriage of Kennedy and a Cajun woman named Victoria Reggie.
I love walking through the congested WIC (Women, Infant and Children) department at work and beam with pride at the sight of beautiful, healthy babies and children. They are truly Kennedy’s legacy. If you’ve ever received a Medicare benefit, a WIC check, SHIP benefits, a Family Medical Leave, the right to vote or a COBRA benefit, you can thank Senator Ted Kennedy. He served “the least among us” nobly.
I hope more legislators and physicians will do the same.