Today Senator Ted Kennedy will be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, close to two of his brothers. I never lived in Massachusetts, so Senator Kennedy was never my senator, but I do think that for the last 47 years he really was a senator for all of us. If you are unfamiliar with his legislative efforts, you might be surprised to know that Kennedy played a major role in Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, National Cancer Act of 1971, Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, or COBRA, Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, Civil Rights Act of 1991, Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA), No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, and the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, to name a few. But today's blog really isn't about Mr. Kennedy's legislative accomplishments, it is more about my wanting to say: "Thank you, Senator Kennedy, for keeping the dream alive!"
I never met Senator Ted Kennedy, but I wish I had. I did not meet President Kennedy, but I did have the privilege of meeting and hosting his son, John F. Kennedy, Jr., at our inn in March 1991. I did not personally meet Senator Bobby Kennedy, but I did attend an event for him (sitting in the second row) on June 5, 1968, in a large ballroom at the San Diego El Cortez Hotel, the evening before he was assassinated after winning the California Democratic Primary. In the Spring of 1988 Dennis and I traveled to Washington, D.C., and of course visited Arlington National Cemetery, viewing the eternal flame and visiting the grave-sites for President Kennedy and Senator Bobby Kennedy, as well. And you know from last week's blog post, we went to Cape Cod in April 1991, and we actually went to Hyannis Port to see the Kennedy compound.
These personal anecdotes aside, as an adult I always felt reassured that Ted Kennedy was in the U.S. Senate looking out for all of us. I will miss his humanity, his vigor, his moving speeches and his dedication.
I learned yesterday that his favorite song was "The Impossible Dream" from The Man of La Mancha, and performances at his Celebration of Life Service included, "The Impossible Dream," sung by Broadway star Brian Stokes Mitchell.**
To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far
To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause
And I know if I'll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest
And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star
My heart is heavy today. May Mr. Kennedy be peaceful and calm as we lay him to rest.
**Brian Stokes Mitchell performs "The Impossible Dream" from "Man of La Mancha" on 28 Sep 2008 at the Salt Lake City convention center, accompanied by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Brian won the American Theatre Wing's Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for "Kiss Me, Kate" in 1999. He was nominated for Best Actor in a Musical for "Ragtime" in 1998 and "Man of La Mancha" in 2002, and for Best Actor in a Play for "King Hedley II" in 2001.