Thursday, September 10, 2009

From his final note

When I first wrote about Ted Kennedy's death, I anticipated the temptation to add to the essay in subsequent days. And I was tempted. And I did add to that initial essay.

Perhaps it's because I grew up in a very strongly Democratic household, the son of parents who lived their most formative years during the Great Depression and directly experienced the many ways FDR sought to alleviate their hardships, and who saw John F. Kennedy not only as an inspirational candidate and leader, but also as a neighbor from a city just an hour's drive from our own home.

Or maybe it's because the policy issue that Ted Kennedy has been most closely associated with, and will likely always be most remembered for, is the policy issue that I care most deeply about, and that has defined my entire working life so far.

In either case, I was pleased to hear the President include parts of a letter written to him by Ted Kennedy in last night's remarks to a joint session of Congress on health care. And I was moved by what Ted Kennedy had to say:
I saw your conviction that the time is now and witnessed your unwavering commitment and understanding that health care is a decisive issue for our future prosperity. But you have also reminded all of us that it concerns more than material things; that what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.

And so because of your vision and resolve, I came to believe that soon, very soon, affordable health coverage will be available to all, in an America where the state of a family’s health will never again depend on the amount of a family’s wealth. And while I will not see the victory, I was able to look forward and know that we will – yes, we will – fulfill the promise of health care in America as a right and not a privilege.

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