Ted Kennedy: Out of Tragedy, Triumph

By Amanda Toth
Assistant Editor-in-Chief

On the night of August 25, I watched the most inspirational speech I have ever seen. On the first night of the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President Kennedy, introduced a video tribute to a United States Senator. But to Kennedy, this Senator was more than just a Senator. He is her uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy.

Kennedy, a Senatorial stalwart since 1962, has seen more than his fair share of tragedy. The youngest of nine children, his oldest brother, Joseph, Jr., was killed when his plane was shot down in World War II. His other brothers, John and Robert, were assassinated as president and Democratic candidate for president.

His mentally disabled sister, Rosemary, underwent a lobotomy, worsening her condition. In 1947, a sister, Kathleen, was also killed in a plane crash, several years after being widowed.

The family patriarch, Joseph, Sr., was paralyzed after suffering a stroke in 1961, leaving him unable to speak. Three years later, Ted himself is the sole survivor in a plane crash, escaping with a broken back.

In 1969, he drove his car off a bridge. While he survived, the other passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, drowned, and he neglected to report the accident immediately. Almost exactly thirty years later, his nephew, John F. Kennedy, Jr., and his wife were killed in an airplane crash en route to a wedding.

Kennedy’s sad story became even more tragic in May, when he was hospitalized after having a seizure. He was later diagnosed as having a cancerous brain tumor. After a risky surgery, he underwent radiation and chemotherapy.

It was discovered after his speech, during which he vowed to watch Senator Barack Obama’s inauguration in January, that he almost canceled his appearance due to a bout with kidney stones.

Even without this latest ailment, a trip to Denver was quite risky for Kennedy. Even if he took a private plane from his home in Boston, he could have been exposed to millions of germs that would threaten his immune system, already weakened by his treatments.

Regardless of party affiliation, one must admit that Senator Kennedy is a true hero. Not only has he withstood unimaginable adversity, but also he risked his life to advance his party’s best interests.