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I seldom grieve for celebrities seen from afar and aloft as they are.When people die, a small part of the world dies with them. For some, a larger part dies- when the Beatles died, there was a little less music in the world, with Diana; a little grace. But when they die, dreams of universal health care do not die with them, nor the dreams of an era.

One of my favourite songs is “Tangled Up In Blue” covered by the Whitlams, and it has the most pronounced influences on how I think about love and life. And sometimes I think, what if Dylan had died before writing it? What if one of the Whitlams had? But in the end, I would have still stumbled on in the end, through the fog of life. People have loved and lost for millenia, and they shall with Dylan long forgotten. But women did not have equal rights to education until title IX, nor did equality of race exist till the Civil Rights Act. And that, in part, is what Kennedy gave us. He lead us through the fog, like a great sage taking us up the mountain. He created something new, and something unique.

I don’t like to exaggerate men into gods, and neither did Kennedy. Kennedy was not without flaws. He invented the most odious verb in the English language: ‘to Bork’, in the process destroying the credibility of the US Supreme Court, that leading light of jurisprudence. But the lesson Kennedy taught me was that we can hew to our principles and our thoughts without sacrificing congeniality to our opponents. He passed bills not through horsetrading but with compassion for those whosee lives would be enriched by the law and also for those congressmen opposing it. America is a better place for it.

Ted, above my bed lies a picture of your brother, John. It’s his presidential portrait of him deep in thought. They say that the club of former presidents is an exclusive club- those of both parties who know the weighty burden of guiding a nation for 8 years. But you, you guided it for 40 years and each of those great legislative acts you helped write into law would also be woven into America’s social fabric for years untold. In ways, you had more influence than any President who has such a short time in office. I don’t pretend to know you, nor anything about you but the merest shreds. But to you, Edward Kennedy, I give my thanks and this small votive:

“Cinis cinerem; pulvis es

et in pulverem revertis

eum eis monentum memoremus

huius momenti Vergilius canat:

sunt lacrimae rerum et mortalia mentem tangunt

autem pius Kennedy tu putamus

et Arma virumque canamus


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