Published Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009 | 11:10 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009 | 7:17 a.m.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate and haunted bearer of the Camelot torch after two of his brothers fell to assassins' bullets, has died at his home in Hyannis Port after battling a brain tumor. He was 77.
For nearly a half-century in the Senate, Kennedy was a steadfast champion of the working class and the poor, a powerful voice on health care, civil rights, and war and peace. To the American public, though, he was best known as the last surviving son of America's most glamorous political family, the eulogist of a clan shattered again and again by tragedy.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid released the following statement early Wednesday on Kennedy's death:
“The Kennedy family and the Senate family have together lost our patriarch. My thoughts, and those of the entire United States Senate, are with Vicki, Senator Kennedy’s children, his many nieces and nephews, and his entire family.
“It was the thrill of my lifetime to work with Ted Kennedy. He was a friend, the model of public service and an American icon.
“As we mourn his loss, we rededicate ourselves to the causes for which he so dutifully dedicated his life. Senator Kennedy’s legacy stands with the greatest, the most devoted, the most patriotic men and women to ever serve in these halls.
“Because of Ted Kennedy, more young children could afford to become healthy. More young adults could afford to become students. More of our oldest citizens and our poorest citizens could get the care they need to live longer, fuller lives. More minorities, women and immigrants could realize the rights our founding documents promised them. And more Americans could be proud of their country.
“Ted Kennedy’s America was one in which all could pursue justice, enjoy equality and know freedom. Ted Kennedy’s life was driven by his love of a family that loved him, and his belief in a country that believed in him. Ted Kennedy’s dream was the one for which the founding fathers fought and his brothers sought to realize.
“The liberal lion’s mighty roar may now fall silent, but his dream shall never die.”