|Sen. Edward Kennedy Dies August 26, 2009
by the President
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was not only one of the greatest Senators of
our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our
democracy. Over the past half-century, nearly every major piece of legislation
that has advanced the civil rights, health, and economic well-being of
the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts. With his
passing, an important chapter in our American story has come to an end.
As a mark of respect for the memory of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, I hereby
order, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the
United States of America, that the flag of the United States shall be flown
at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds,
at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the
Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United
States and its Territories and possessions until sunset on August 30, 2009.
I also direct that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff
until sunset on the day of his interment. I further direct that the flag
shall be flown at half-staff for the same periods at all United States
embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including
all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day
of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence
of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.
from President Obama:
Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of
our dear friend, Sen. Ted Kennedy.
For 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.
I 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 profited as President from
his encouragement and wisdom.
An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country
has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers
and became the greatest United States Sen. of our time.
And the Kennedy family has lost their patriarch, a tower of strength
and support through good times and bad.
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
Blue Heron Farm
THE PRESIDENT: I wanted to say a few words this morning about the passing
of an extraordinary leader, Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Over the past several years, I've had the honor to call Teddy a colleague,
a counselor, and a friend. And even though we have known this day was coming
for some time now, we awaited it with no small amount of dread.
Since Teddy's diagnosis last year, we've seen the courage with which
he battled his illness. And while these months have no doubt been difficult
for him, they've also let him hear from people in every corner of our nation
and from around the world just how much he meant to all of us. His fight
has given 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
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. 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 myself.
The Kennedy name is synonymous with the Democratic Party. And at times,
Ted was the target of partisan campaign attacks. But 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 could passionately
battle others and do so peerlessly on the Senate floor for the causes that
he held dear, and yet still maintain 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
His extraordinary life on this earth has come to an end. And the extraordinary
good that he did lives on. For his family, he was a guardian. For America,
he was the defender of a dream.
I spoke earlier this morning to Sen. Kennedy's beloved wife, Vicki,
who was to the end such a wonderful source of encouragement and strength.
Our thoughts and prayers are with her, his children Kara, Edward, and Patrick;
his stepchildren Curran and Caroline; the entire Kennedy family; decades'
worth of his staff; the people of Massachusetts; and all Americans who,
like us, loved Ted Kennedy.
by the Vice President on the passing of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy
The Department of Energy, Washington, DC
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, Mr. Secretary, thank you and your staff
for the privilege of being with you today on what, as I prepared last night,
was to be a joyous occasion, announcing another step in the direction of
energy independence. And you said the President made a wise choice. The
wisest choice the President made was asking you to be — I mean that sincerely
— to be the Secretary to the Department of Energy. You've assembled a first-rate
staff, and you've taken on a role that is going to be a — is going to,
in large part, determine the success of these next three-and-a-half years,
whether or not we make a genuine dent, genuine progress in moving toward
an energy policy that can help America lead the world in the 21st century
as it did in the 20th century.
Some suggest we're trying to do too much. But my response is,
is there any possibility of America leading the world in the 21st century
without a radically altered energy policy? It is not possible. And that
charge has been given to one of the most remarkable men to serve in a President's
Cabinet, a Nobel laureate who is as articulate as he is obviously bright,
and a man who has assembled a staff that can corral the bureaucracy — and
we're all — deal with bureaucracy, we're all part of it — in a way that
I haven't seen in awhile.
And I had planned on speaking to the Clean Cities Program as one of
the several initiatives we have to begin to reshape our energy policy.
But as if Teddy were here, as we would say in the Senate, if you'd excuse
a point of personal privilege, I quite frankly think it's — would be inappropriate
for me to dwell too much on the initiative that we're announcing today
and not speak to my friend.
My wife Jill, and my sons Beau and Hunter, and my daughter Ashley —
and I don't say that lightly, because they all knew Teddy, he did something
personal and special for each one of them in their lives — truly, truly
are distressed by his passing. And our hearts go out to Teddy Jr., and
Patrick and Kara, and Vicki, with whom I spoke this morning, and the whole
Teddy spent a lifetime working for a fair and more just America. And
for 36 years, I had the privilege of going to work every day and literally,
not figuratively sitting next to him, and being witness to history. Every
single day the Senate was in session, I sat with him on the Senate floor
in the same aisle. I sat with him on the Judiciary Committee next — physically
next to him. And I sat with him in the caucuses. And it was in that process,
every day I was with him — and this is going to sound strange — but he
restored my sense of idealism and my faith in the possibilities of what
this country could do.
He and I were talking after his diagnosis. And I said, I think you're
the only other person I've met, who like me, is more optimistic, more enthusiastic,
more idealistic, sees greater possibilities after 36 years than when we
were elected. He was 30 years-old when he was elected; I was 29 years-old.
And you'd think that would be the peak of our idealism. But I genuinely
feel more optimistic about the prospect for my country today than I did
— I have been any time in my life.
And it was infectious when you were with him. You could see it, those
of you who knew him and those of you who didn't know him. You could just
see it in the nature of his debate, in the nature of his embrace, in the
nature of how he every single day attacked these problems. And, you know,
he was never defeatist. He never was petty — never was petty. He was never
small. And in the process of his doing, he made everybody he worked with
bigger — both his adversaries as well as his allies.
Don't you find it remarkable that one of the most partisan, liberal
men in the last century serving in the Senate had so many of his — so many
of his foes embracing him, because they know he made them bigger, he made
them more graceful by the way in which he conducted himself.
You know, he changed the circumstances of tens of millions of Americans
— in the literal sense, literally — literally changed the circumstances.
He changed also another aspect of it as I observed about him — he changed
not only the physical circumstance, he changed how they looked at themselves
and how they looked at one another. That's a remarkable, remarkable contribution
for any man or woman to make. And for the hundreds, if not thousands, of
us who got to know him personally, he actually — how can I say it — he
altered our lives as well.
Through the grace of God and accident of history I was privileged to
be one of those people and every important event in my adult life — as
I look back this morning and talking to Vicki — every single one, he was
there. He was there to encourage, to counsel, to be empathetic, to lift
up. In 1972 I was a 29 year old kid with three weeks left to go in a campaign,
him showing up at the Delaware Armory in the middle of what we called Little
Italy — who had never voted nationally by a Democrat — I won by 3,100 votes
and got 85 percent of the vote in that district, or something to that effect.
I literally would not be standing here were it not for Teddy Kennedy —
not figuratively, this is not hyperbole — literally.
He was there — he stood with me when my wife and daughter were killed
in an accident. He was on the phone with me literally every day in the
hospital, my two children were attempting, and, God willing, thankfully
survived very serious injuries. I'd turn around and there would be some
specialist from Massachusetts, a doc I never even asked for, literally
sitting in the room with me.
You know, it's not just me that he affected like that — it's hundreds
upon hundreds of people. I was talking to Vicki this morning and she said
— she said, "He was ready to go, Joe, but we were not ready to let him
He's left a great void in our public life and a hole in the hearts of
millions of Americans and hundreds of us who were affected by his personal
touch throughout our lives. People like me, who came to rely on him. He
was kind of like an anchor. And unlike many important people in my 38 years
I've had the privilege of knowing, the unique thing about Teddy was it
was never about him. It was always about you. It was never about him. It
was people I admire, great women and men, at the end of the day gets down
to being about them. With Teddy it was never about him.
Well, today we lost a truly remarkable man. To paraphrase Shakespeare:
I don't think we shall ever see his like again. I think the legacy he left
is not just in the landmark legislation he passed, but in how he helped
people look at themselves and look at one another.
I apologize for us not being able to go into more detail about the energy
bill, but I just think for me, at least, it was inappropriate today. And
I'm sure there will be much more that will be said about my friend and
your friend, but — he changed the political landscape for almost half a
century. I just hope — we say blithely, you know, we'll remember what we
did. I just hope we'll remember how he treated other people and how he
made other people look at themselves and look at one another. That will
be the truly fundamental, unifying legacy of Teddy Kennedy's life if that
happens — and it will for a while, at least in the Senate.
Mr. Secretary, you and your staff are doing an incredible job. I look
forward to coming back at a happier moment when you are announcing even
more consequential progress toward putting us back in a position where
once again can control our own economic destiny.
Thank you all very, very much. (Applause.)
of Trina Vargo on the Death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy
"Sen. Kennedy’s commitment to Ireland and Northern Ireland spanned forty
years and no one has contributed more to the strengthening of the relationship
between the US and the island of Ireland. He encouraged me to create the
US-Ireland Alliance and everyone at the Alliance is grateful for the continuous
support he gave to the organization and the Mitchell Scholarship program.
Personally, he gave me, at a very young age, an incredible opportunity
to be a part of making a difference in a way that few people get. I told
him when I left his employ that, no matter what I did with the rest of
my life, the way that I see things would, to a very great extent, be shaped
by the way that I learned to see things by working with him. And for that
I feel honored and privileged — but most of all I feel incredibly lucky
— that he allowed me to be a part of his work." (Editor’s Note: Trina Vargo
served as Foreign Policy Adviser to Sen. Kennedy from 1987-1998 and was
heavily involved in the Northern Ireland peace process. She subsequently
founded, and is president of, the US-Ireland Alliance.)
by the National Security Advisor General James L. Jones on the passing
of Sen. Kennedy
As a young Senate Liaison officer during the early 1980’s, I had the
opportunity to get to know Sen. Edward Kennedy who was then a member of
the Senate Armed Services Committee. Sen. Kennedy and his staff were among
some of the best supporters the Marine Corps ever had on Capitol Hill.
Despite his many responsibilities, he always made time for me on issues
of importance to Marines and their families. Always gracious and well informed,
the Sen. was instrumental in the passage of the landmark legislation known
as Goldwater-Nichols and military pay reforms, which ushered in the most
comprehensive reforms of our military and defense establishment since the
end of World War II.
Sen. Kennedy, among the many things he will be remembered for, deserves
to be honored for his genuine care and compassion for our men and women
in uniform – his tireless work and his voting record clearly supports this
distinction. While he never shied from challenging our senior military
leadership during hundreds of committee hearings, he could always be counted
on to be fair and open-minded in letting witnesses like me make our case
to the committee and to the American people. He contributed a great deal
to my "Washington education", and I’m sure he is most proud of the contributions
many of his former staff members continue to make to our nation today.
– Edward Kennedy was Bulwark of the Peace Process
Leader and Foyle MP Mark Durkan, MLA, has paid tribute to Sen. Edward Kennedy
who has died at the age of 77 describing him as ‘a bulwark of the peace
Durkan, who worked as an intern in Mr. Kennedy’s office in 1985, said
the Democratic politician stood against injustice and was absolutely opposed
to violence. He said: "Edward Kennedy played an absolutely decisive role
in the peace process.
"He took a decision to contact and connect with Irish affairs through
his relationship with John Hume and took most of his read on how things
where panning out in Ireland from John Hume.
"He was never afraid to take stands and stances that challenged the
actions and inactions of the British Government. Furthermore, he was prepared
to challenge the convictions of misguided elements of the Irish-American
"In essence, he stood up for what was right and stood against what was
wrong. He stood against injustice, inertia and intransigence and was absolutely
opposed to violence. He was a true bulwark of the peace process. To use
a phrase often used by him, ‘he did not bend with the wind or break with
"He took a cause and stuck to it and did not lose sight of what was
needed or what was right.
"He may have been criticized and misunderstood by all of the parties
here except the SDLP, but I believe he did gain the trust and confidence
of all parties in the end when they accepted and appreciated the strength
and quality of his commitment to the peace process.
"In fact, many of the positive interventions of the Clinton administration
that put the spring and balance into the peace process were down to him.
Many of Clinton’s key staff where people who had worked with Edward Kennedy
when I was out there such as Nancy Soderberg.
"And I recall vividly the many phone calls in 1994 ahead of the decision
was made to grant Gerry Adams a visa to visit America.
"And in later years he took a deeply personal and moral stance in relation
to the murder of Robert McCartney at a time when the British and Irish
governments seemed reluctant to confront what had happened. He was genuinely
moved by the courage of the McCartney sisters leading him to give a clear
political statement that Sinn Féin must disengage from the IRA and
that the IRA must put an end to all their activities.
"It was his actions which lead to the breakthrough with Sinn Féin
and the IRA which led them to make the decisive and definitive changes
that up to then they had avoided and which ultimately contributed to the
settled process we have today."
John Bruton of the European Commission Delegation to the United States
issued the following statement today upon the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy:
I wish to express sympathy on my personal behalf, and on behalf of the
European Commission, to the Kennedy family, the people of Massachusetts
and the people of the United States on the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Ted Kennedy was first and foremost a great legislator. As a Sen., he
was adept at forging the compromises across the political spectrum that
are essential if legislation is to pass in the U. S. Senate. His focus
on raising educational standards and on universal healthcare were not ends
in themselves, but part of a wider commitment he had to ensuring that the
poorest in society could be raised up through education and would share
fully in the magnificent advances of modern medicine. In a word, he was
a man of social justice.
He was deeply knowledgeable on European issues and on foreign policy
questions. I remember an occasion when I was part of a Parliamentary Delegation
from the Western European Union in Washington and we were seeking to meet
a member of the Senate, but our previous arrangements had fallen through.
At literally one minute's notice, Ted Kennedy agreed to come down the
corridor and meet us. He then gave a virtuoso display of technical knowledge
of foreign policy and security issues and responded fully to specialist
questions on these subjects from experts from all the major Parliaments
Ted Kennedy had a deep interest in Ireland, the country of his ancestors,
the Kennedy's and the Fitzgeralds. He visited many times. He played a critical
rôle in diminishing support among Irish Americans for the use of
violence or coercion of any kind to resolve the divisions between the two
communities in Northern Ireland. This required courage on his part as many
of his constituents would have disagreed initially with his position. He
was a big support to successive Irish Governments and to leaders like John
Hume and David Trimble in forging the compromises that have now given Ireland
peace and stability at last.
I heard Ted Kennedy speak a few years ago in the National Press Club.
He was a great orator, in the old tradition. In his public speeches, he
was a master both of cadence and clarity of expression, making anything
he had to say a pleasure to listen to.
His widow Victoria, and his children will miss him greatly. His son
Patrick, Congressman from Rhode Island, carries on his political legacy
with the same commitment to social justice that marked his father's long
Statement of U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl on the Passing of
Sen. Edward Kennedy
"I’m deeply saddened by the loss of my close friend and colleague. Sen.
Kennedy did so much good work for so many people. He was an effective champion
for education, health care and social justice, and a powerful voice for
those who would otherwise have none. Our heartfelt condolences go out to
Ted Kennedy’s family, friends and the many people whose lives he touched."
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force mourns the loss of U.S.
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), who died after battling a brain tumor. Kennedy
was a champion of many progressive causes. He was a strong supporter of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He played a central role in enactment of
legislation outlawing discrimination in housing, prohibiting gender discrimination,
the Age Discrimination Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. He
also authored amendments strengthening enforcement of key provisions of
the Civil Rights Act.
Kennedy was the original sponsor of hate crimes legislation in 1997.
Since then, he fought tirelessly to secure repeated successful votes on
the legislation, ultimately wholeheartedly supporting and securing several
successful Senate votes for the version of the legislation that included
both sexual orientation and gender identity. In 1994, Kennedy was the original
Senate lead on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and, in his later
years, championed the expanded version that would protect all lesbian,
gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
In 1996, Kennedy voted against the "Defense of Marriage Act," led opposition
to a federal marriage amendment and opposed an anti-marriage measure in
Massachusetts. He fought to end funding of abstinence-only education programs.
Kennedy was an outspoken supporter for the repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t
Tell" and increased funding for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.
Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director National Gay and Lesbian
"The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force mourns the loss of Sen. Edward
Kennedy, a true champion of the people and a dear friend to our community.
The Sen. was a hero to many across the country and around the world. He
spent his life fighting for justice for working people, people of color,
children, women, LGBT people, immigrants, people with disabilities, people
living with HIV/AIDS and so many others who looked to his leadership for
a more just society.
Sen. Kennedy was unmatched in his compassion and in his willingness
to stand with those who often lacked a champion. Even after his death,
his vision will inspire generations to work for the health, welfare and
equality for all he so doggedly pursued. We offer our deepest and most
sincere condolences to his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with his
loved ones at this difficult time."