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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 28, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Ted Kennedy: remembering a dedicated senator

Kennedy, a graceful and model public servant

Much has been written over the past few days about the impact Sen. Ted Kennedy made as a legislator and the way he interacted with the people he represented. My anecdote, perhaps more removed than some, is extremely memorable and important to me.

As a Massachusetts native who spent much of my early career working in homeless shelters and anti-poverty agencies, I was aware of the work Kennedy was doing on behalf of people living in poverty.

In 1994, while working for Kennedy’s re-election, I wrote The Boston Globe a passionate response to an article about how many young people were unaware of — or downright cynical about — Kennedy’s work.

“The under-30 crowd, of which I am a part, seems to be paying more attention to Hollywood than Washington, and the ridicule directed at Kennedy is more available to these voters than credits on his record,” my letter in The Globe said.

A few days after my letter was published I got something in the mail that remains one of my most cherished possessions: a handwritten note from Kennedy thanking me. For me, it was like God stopping by on his way to work to pat me on the back.

In his lifetime of service, Kennedy represented more than just the people of Massachusetts. He represented the ideals and hopes of millions of young people like me who needed someone to lead the way — to validate the work we were doing and the idealistic dreams we refused to let die.

As much as Bobby and Jack Kennedy remain my larger-than-life heroes, Ted Kennedy — like Martin Luther King Jr. — will always be the boots-on-the-ground ideal of what a public servant is: tireless, effective, fiercely intelligent and always graceful.

— Jesse Ward Putnam, Seattle

Extend Medicare to all to honor the liberal lion

Sen. Edward Kennedy was a great champion of social justice, active on behalf of the less fortunate and a wonderful advocate for health-care reform.

What better memorial in his honor could we give him than an excellent new universal-health-care bill for the American people, extending Medicare to all?

— Caroline Herzenberg, Chicago, Ill.

Comments | More in Congress, Health care, Politics, Reform

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