Thursday, August 27, 2009

PVCHR tributes Senator Ted Kennedy

"Today we lost the most important voice of our generation on behalf of human rights and social justice in the United States and around the world. Ted Kennedy was our indispensable hero on all these issues. He has supported the work of the RFK Center since his brother Bob's death in 1968 and we will miss him terribly." - Philip Johnston, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the RFK Center

The RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights is deeply saddened by the loss of an American human rights icon, founding Board Member and vital supporter, Senator Edward M. Kennedy. No public servant in America has done more to stand up for fundamental human rights both at home and abroad than Senator Kennedy. In an unparalleled career in the U.S. Senate, he has led the fight on behalf of America's poor, minority, immigrant communities and those who lacked a voice on issues including civil rights, workers' rights, and what he called "the fight of my life," the right of universal health care for all Americans.

Senator Kennedy has been a champion for international human rights, helping bring peace to Northern Ireland, rallying unity against apartheid in South Africa, and standing up for the powerless in past conflicts in Latin America and today in Darfur. He has brought light to injustices in lesser known parts of the world, including Western Sahara and the Dominican Republic.

"Senator Kennedy was an unrelenting force in American politics, continually pushing our nation to strive for our ideals of justice, public service, equality and human rights. Alongside his epic body of work in the U.S. Senate, his dedication to the RFK Center, including hosting the annual RFK Human Rights Award and unwavering advocacy, will reverberate in communities at home and abroad for years to come. He will always remain a beloved figure in the hearts of the disenfranchised around the globe", said Lynn Delaney, Executive Director of the RFK Center. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Vicki, their children, and the entire Kennedy family."

Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy.

For nearly five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well-being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.

His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives -- in seniors who know new dignity; in families that know new opportunity; in children who know education's promise; and in all who can pursue their dream in an America that is more equal and more just, including me.

In the United States Senate, I can think of no one who engendered greater respect or affection from members of both sides of the aisle. His seriousness of purpose was perpetually matched by humility, warmth and good cheer. He battled passionately on the Senate floor for the causes that he held dear, and yet still maintained warm friendships across party lines. And that's one reason he became not only one of the greatest senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy.

I personally valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've benefited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.

His fight gave us the opportunity we were denied when his brothers John and Robert were taken from us: the blessing of time to say thank you and goodbye. The outpouring of love, gratitude and fond memories to which we've all borne witness is a testament to the way this singular figure in American history touched so many lives.

For America, he was a defender of a dream. For his family, he was a guardian. Our hearts and prayers go out to them today -- to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family.

Today, our country mourns. We say goodbye to a friend and a true leader who challenged us all to live out our noblest values. And we give thanks for his memory, which inspires us still.


President Barack Obama

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