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CNN Live Event/Special
More Coverage of Ted Kennedy's Funeral
Aired August 29, 2009 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
EDWARD KENNEDY, JR., SEN KENNEDY'S SON: My name is Ted Kennedy Jr., a name I share with my son, a name I shared with my father. Although it hasn't been easy at times to live with this name, I've never been more proud of it than I am today.
Your Eminence, thank you for being here. You've graced us with your presence. To all the musicians who have come here, my father loved the arts and he would be so pleased for your performances today.
My heart is filled. And I first want to say thank you. My heart is filled with appreciation and gratitude to the people of Massachusetts, my father's loyal staff, who -- in many ways my dad's loss is just as great for them as it is for those of us in our family. And to all of my father's family and friends who have come to pay their respects.
Listening to people speak about how my father impacted their lives and the deep personal connection that people felt with my dad has been an overwhelming emotional experience.
My dad had the greatest friends in the world. All of you here are also my friends, and his greatest gift to me. I love you just as much as he did.
Sarah Brown, Beticia (ph), President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, President Bush, President Carter, you honor my family by your presence here today. I remember how my dad would tell audiences years ago, I don't mind not being president; I just mind that someone else is.
There is much to say and much will be said about Ted Kennedy, the statesman, the master of the legislative process and bipartisan compromise, workhorse of the Senate, beacon of social justice, and protector of the people.
There's also much to be said and much will be said about my father, the man, the story teller, the lover of costume parties, the practical joker, the accomplished painter.
He was a lover of everything French, cheese, wine, and women. He was a mountain climber, navigator, skipper, tactician, airplane pilot, rodeo rider, ski jumper, dog lover and all-around adventurer. Our family vacations left us all injured and exhausted.
He was a dinner table debater and devil's advocate. He was an Irishman, and a proud member of the Democratic Party.
Here is one you may not know. Out of Harvard, he was a Green Bay Packers recruit, but decided to go to law school instead. He was a devout Catholic, whose faith helped him survive unbearable losses, and whose teaching teachings taught him that he had a moral obligation to help others in need.
He was not perfect, far from it. But my father believed in redemption. And he never surrendered, never stopped trying to right wrongs, be they the results of his own failings or of ours.
But today, I'm simply compelled to remember Ted Kennedy as my father and my best friend.
When I was 12 years old, I was diagnosed with bone cancer. And a few months after I lost my leg, there was a heavy snowfall over my childhood home outside of Washington D.C. and my father went to the garage to get the old Flexible Flyer, and asked me if I wanted to go sledding down the steep driveway.
And I was trying to get used to my new artificial leg. And the hill was covered with ice and snow. And it wasn't easy for me to walk. And the hill was very slick. And as I struggled to walk, I slipped and I fell on the ice and I started to cry and I said, "I can't do this." I said, "I'll never be able to climb up that hill." And he lifted me up in his strong, gentle arms and said something I will never forget, he said, "I know you can do it. There is nothing that you can't do. We're going to climb that hill together, even if it takes us all day."
Sure enough, he held me around my waist and we slowly made it to the top. And you know, at age 12 losing your leg pretty much seems like the end of the world, but as I climbed on to his back and we flew down the hill that day, I knew he was right. I knew I was going to be OK.
You see, my father taught me that even our most profound losses are survivable, and that is -- and it is what we do with that loss, our ability to transform it into a positive event, that is one of my father's greatest lessons.
He taught me that nothing is impossible. During the summer months when I was growing up, my father would arrive late in the afternoon from Washington on Fridays and as soon as he got to Cape Cod, he would want to go straight out and practice sailing maneuvers on the Victura, in anticipation of that weekend's races.
And we'd be out late and the sun would be setting and family dinner would be getting cold and we'd be out there practicing our jibes and our spinnaker sets, long after everyone else had gone ashore.
One night, not another boat in sight on the summer sea, I asked him, why are we always the last ones on the water? "Teddy," he said, "you see, most of the other sailors that we race against are smarter and more talented than we are. But the reason... but the reason why we're going to win is that we will work harder than them, and we will be better prepared."
And he just wasn't talking about boating. My father admired perseverance. My father believed that to do a job effectively required a tremendous amount of time and effort.
Dad instilled in me also the importance of history and biography. He loved Boston, and the amazing writers and philosophers and politicians from Massachusetts. He took me and my cousins to the old North Church and to Walden Pond and to the homes of Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne in the Berkshires.
He thought that Massachusetts was the greatest place on Earth. And he had letters from many of its former senators, like Daniel Webster and John Quincy Adams, hanging on his walls, inspired by things heroic.
He was a Civil War buff. When we were growing up, he would pack us all into his car or rented camper, and we would travel around to all the great battlefields. I remember he would frequently meet with his friend, Shelby Foot, at a particular site on the anniversary of a historic battle, just so he could appreciate better what the soldiers must have experienced on that day.
He believed that in order to know what to do in the future, you had to understand the past.
My father loved other old things. He loved his classic wooden schooner, the Mya. He loved light houses and his 1973 Pontiac convertible.
My father taught me to treat everyone I meet, no matter what station in life, with the same dignity and respect. He could be discussing arms control with the president at 3:00 p.m. and meeting with a union carpenter for -- on fair wage legislation or a New Bedford fisherman on fisheries policy at 4:30.
I once told him that he had accidentally left some money -- I remember this when I was a little kid -- on the sink in our hotel room. And he replied, Teddy, let me tell you something, making beds all day is back breaking work. The woman who has to clean up after us today has a family to feed. And just -- that's just the kind of guy he was.
He answered Uncle Joe's call to patriotism, Uncle Jack's call to public service, and Bobby's determination to seek a newer world. Unlike them, he lived to be a grandfather. And knowing what my cousins have been through, I feel grateful that I have had my father as long as I did.
He even taught me some of life's harder lessons, such as how to like Republicans.
He once told me -- he said, "Teddy, Republicans love this country just as much as I do." I think that he felt like he had something in common with his Republican counterparts, the vagaries of public opinion, the constant scrutiny of the press, the endless campaigning for the next election, but most of all, the incredible shared sacrifice that being in public life demands.
He understood the hardship that politics has on a family and the hard work and commitment that it requires. He often brought his Republican colleagues home for dinner. And he believed in developing personal relationships and honoring differences. And one of the wonderful experiences that I will remember today is how many of his Republican colleagues are sitting here right before him. That's a true testament to the man.
And he always told me that -- always be ready to compromise, but never compromise on your principles. He was an idealist and a pragmatist. He was restless, but patient. When he learned that a survey of Republican senators named him the Democratic legislator that they most wanted to work with and that John McCain called him the single most effective member of the U.S. Senate, he was so proud, because he considered the combination of accolades from your supporters and respect from your sometime political adversaries as one of the ultimate goals of a successful political life.
At the end of his life, my dad returned home. He died at the place he loved more than any other, Cape Cod. The last months of my dad's life were not sad or terrifying, but full -- fulfilled with profound experiences, a series of moments more precious than I could have imagined.
He taught me more about humility, vulnerability, and courage than he had taught me in my whole life.
Although he lived a full and complete life by any measure, the fact is, he wasn't done. He still had work to do. He was so proud of where we had recently come as a nation. And although I do grieve for what might have been, for what he might have helped us accomplish, I pray today that we can set aside this sadness and instead celebrate all that he was and did and stood for.
I will try to live up to the high standard that my father set for all of us when he said, "the work goes on; the cause endures; the hope still lives; and the dream shall never die." I love you, dad. I always will. And I miss you already.
REP PATRICK KENNEDY, SEN KENNEDY'S SON: President and Mrs. Obama, distinguished guests, friends of my father all of you, while a nation has lost a great senator, my brothers and sisters and I have lost a loving father. When I was a kid, I couldn't breathe. Growing up I suffered from chronic and crippling asthma attacks, and the medications I had to give to me were very difficult and gave me a throbbing headache every night that I had to use my bronchusal (ph) nebulizer.
Now, obviously, I wish that I did not have to suffer those attacks and endure those headaches. Nor did I like having to grow up having a special no-allergenic, non-smoking room reserved for me whenever we went on family vacations. But as I now realize years later, while asthma may have posed a challenge to my physical health, it propped up my emotional and mental health, because it kept my father by my bedside.
My dad was always sure to be within reach of me, and the side effects of the medication meant that he was always holding a cold, wet towel on my forehead until I fell asleep again from my headache.
As far as the special effort that was made to ensure that I had a proper room to sleep in while we were on vacations as a family, this usually meant that I got the nicest room and it also ensured that dad was my roommate.
I couldn't have seen it at the time, but having asthma was like hitting the jackpot for a child who craved his father's love and attention. When his light shined on me alone, there was no better feeling in all of the world. When dad was away, I often didn't know when he would return, and as a young boy, I didn't know why he wasn't around at Christmastime, when Santa came to the house. And I really wondered why Santa had the same two moles on his face than my dad had.
And in the same place as my dad. Even after I figured out that, that was my dad and the costume finally came off, he still remained to me a magical figure. As a little kid, I didn't look like much of a sailor, but my dad thought otherwise.
You see, in sailing there are rules as well, much like government. Tireless, mundane rules that will surely make you seasick. The rule was four people on the boat to race, just four. But my dad, of course, dug around until he found a rule around the rule.
Sound familiar to you who served with him in the Senate?
Kids under 12, he found out, especially scrawny little redheads like me, could tag along.
My dad found that rule that meshed with his mission. He refused to leave me behind.
He did that for all of those around the world who needed a special voice, as well. When we raced in foul weather, there was lots of salt water and lots of salty language. Those experiences not only broadened my vocabulary, sure, but will he also built my self- confidence. I saw a lot of his political philosophy in those sailboat races. One thing I noticed was that on the boat, as in this country, there was a role for everybody, a place for everybody to contribute.
Second, in the race as in life, it didn't matter how strong the forces against you were so long as you kept driving forward. There was nothing to lose. Maybe you would even come out a winner.
My dad was never bowed. He never gave up and there was no quit in dad. And looking out in this audience and looking out at the tremendous number of people who align themselves along the roadways, coming up from the Cape throughout Boston when we went around, who waited in line for hours to see his casket as they came through the JFK Library, there's no doubt in my mind that my dad came out a winner.
I want to thank all of you for the amazing tribute that you've given my father in the last several days. And I want to say just as proud as I was to be a crew on his sailboat, I am forever grateful for the opportunity to have worked with him in the United States Congress as his colleague.
I admit I used to hang onto his T-shirt and his coat sleeve on the Capitol when I was just a little boy. So, when I got a chance to serve with him on Capitol Hill, all I needed to do was set my compass to the principles of his life.
My father and I were the primary sponsors of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act which was signed into law last year. This bill represented not only a legal victory for 54 million Americans with mental illness who are being denied equal health insurance, but as one of those 54 million Americans, I felt he was also fighting for me to help ease the burden of stigma and shame that accompanies treatment.
I will really miss working with dad. I will miss my dad's wonderful sense of self-deprecating humor. When the far right made dad their poster child for their attack ads, he used to say, we Kennedys sure bring out the best in people. And when he first got elected and my cousin Joe was a member of Congress and I came to Congress, dad finally celebrated saying, finally after all these years when someone says who does that damn Kennedy think he is, there's only a one in three chance they're talking about me.
Most Americans will remember dad as a good and decent hard-charging senator. But to Teddy, Curran, Caroline, Kara and I, we will always remember him as a loving and devoted father. And in the 1980 campaign, my dad often quoted Robert Frost at the conclusion of every stump speech to indicate that he had to go onto another political event. He would paraphrase the line from the "Road Less Traveled": "The woods are lovely, dark and deep, and I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep and miles to go before I sleep."
Well, dad, you've kept that promise both literally and figuratively to be your brother's keeper. Now, it's time for you to rest in peace. May your spirit live forever in our hearts, and as you challenged us so many times before, may your dream for a better, more just America never die. I love you, dad, and you will always live in my heart forever.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Your Eminence, Vicki, Kara, Edward, Patrick, Curran, Caroline, members of the Kennedy family, distinguished guests and fellow citizens, today we say good- bye to the youngest child of Rose and Joseph Kennedy. The world will long remember their son Edward as the heir to a weighty legacy, a champion for those who had none, the soul of the Democratic party and a lion of the United States Senate. A man who graces nearly 1,000 laws, who penned more than 300 laws himself.
But to those of us who loved him and ache with his passing know Ted Kennedy by the other titles he held: father, brother, husband, grandfather, Uncle Teddy, or as he was often known to his younger nieces and nephews, the Grand Formage, or the Big Cheese. I, like so many others in the city where he worked for nearly half a century, knew him as a colleague, a mentor, and above all, as a friend.
Ted Kennedy was the baby of the family who became its patriarch, the restless dreamer who became its rock. He was the sunny, joyful child who bore the brunt of his brothers' teasings but learned quickly how to brush it off. When they tossed him off a boat because he didn't know what a jib was, six-year-old Teddy got back in and learned to sail. When a photographer asked a newly elected Bobby to step back at a press conference because he was casting a shadow on his younger brother, Teddy quipped, it will be the same in Washington.
That spirit of resilience and good humor would see Teddy through more pain and tragedy than most of us will ever know. He lost two siblings by the age of 16, he saw two more taken violently from a country that loved them. He said good-bye to his beloved sister Eunice in the final days of his life. He narrowly survived a plane crash, watched two children struggle with cancer, buried three nephews and experienced personal failings and setbacks in the most public way possible.
It's a string of events that would have broken a lesser man. It would have been easy for Ted to let himself become bitter and hardened, to surrender to self-pity and regret, to retreat from public life and live out his years in peaceful quiet. No one would have blamed him for that.
But that was not Ted Kennedy. As he told us, individual faults and frailties are no excuse to give in and no exemption from the common obligation to give of ourselves. Indeed, Ted was the happy warrior that the poet Wordsworth spoke of when he wrote, "as tempted more, more able to endure, as more exposed to suffering and distress, hence also more alive to tenderness."
Through his own suffering, Ted Kennedy became more alive to the plight and the suffering of others. A sick child who could not see a doctor, the young soldier denied her rights because of what she looks like or who she loves or where she comes from. Landmark laws that he championed. The Civil Rights Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, immigration reform, children's health insurance, the Family and Medical Leave Act all have a running thread.
That's Kennedy's life work was not to champion the causes of those with wealth or power or special connections, it was to give a voice to those who were not heard, to add a rung to the ladder of opportunity, to make real the dream of our founder. He was given the gift of time that his brothers were not, and he used that gift to touch as many lives and right as many wrongs as the years would allow. We can still hear him, his voice bellowing through the Senate chamber, face reddened, fists pounding at the podium, a veritable force of nature in support of health care or workers' rights or civil rights. And yet as has been noted, while his causes became deeply personal, his disagreements never did.
While he was seen by his fiercest critics as a partisan lightning rod, that's not the prism through which Ted Kennedy saw the world. Nor was it the prism through which his colleagues saw Ted Kennedy. He was a product of an age when the joy and nobility of politics prevented differences of party and platform and philosophy from becoming barriers to cooperation and mutual respect, a time when adversaries still saw each other as patriots.
And that's how Ted Kennedy became the greatest legislator of our time. He did it by hueing the principle, yes, but also by seeking compromise and common cause, not through dealmaking and horsetrading alone but through friendship and kindness and humor. There was a time he courted Orrin Hatch for support of the Children's Health Insurance program by having his chief of staff serenade the senator with a song Orrin had written himself.
The time he delivered shamrock cookies on a china plate to sweeten up a crusty Republican colleague. The famous story of how he won the support of a Texas committee chairman on an immigration bill -- Teddy walked into a meeting with a plain manila envelope and showed only the chairman that it was filled with the Texan's favorite cigars. When the negotiations were going well, he would inch the envelope closer to the chairman. When they weren't, he'd pull it back.
OBAMA: Before long, the deal was done.
It was only a few years ago on St. Patrick's Day when Teddy buttonholed me on the floor of the Senate for my support of a certain piece of legislation that was coming up for a vote. I gave my pledge, but I expressed skepticism that it would pass. When the roll call was over, the bill garnered the votes that it needed and then some. I looked at Teddy with astonishment and asked, how had he done it? He just patted me on the back and said, luck of the Irish.
Of course, luck had little to do with Ted Kennedy's legislative success. He knew that. A few years ago, his father-in-law told him that he and Daniel Webster just might be the two greatest senators of all time. Without missing a beat, Teddy replied, what did Webster do?
OBAMA: But though it is Teddy's historic body of achievements that we will remember, it is his giving heart that we will miss. He was the friend and the colleague who was always the first to pick up the phone and say, I'm sorry for your loss or I hope you feel better or what can I do to help?
It was the boss so adored by his staff that over 500, spanning five decades showed up for his 75th birthday party. It was the man who sent birthday wishes and thank you notes and even his own paintings to so many who never imagined that a U.S. senator of such stature would take the time to think about somebody like them.
I have one of those paintings in my private study off the Oval Office, a Cape Cod seascape that was a gift to a freshman legislator who had just arrived in Washington and happened to admire it when Ted Kennedy welcomed him into his office. That, by the way, is my second gift from Teddy and Vicki after our dog Bo. And it seems like everyone has one of those stories, the ones that often start with you wouldn't believe who called me today.
Ted Kennedy was the father who looked not only after his own three children, but John's and Bobby's as well. He took them camping and taught them to sail, he laughed and danced with them at birthdays and weddings and cried and mourned with them through hardship and tragedy and passed on that same sense of service and selflessness that his parents had instilled in him.
Shortly after Ted walked Caroline down the aisle and gave her away at the altar, he received a note from Jackie that read, "On you, the carefree youngest brother, fell a burden a hero would have begged to have been spared. We're all going to make it because you're always there with your love."
Not only did the Kennedy family make it because of Ted's love, he made it because of theirs, especially because the love and the life he found in Vicki. After so much loss and so much sorrow, it could not have been easy for Ted to risk his heart again, and that he did is a testament to how deeply he loved this remarkable woman from Louisiana, and she didn't just love him back as Ted would often acknowledge Vicki say to him. She gave him strength and purpose, joy and friendship and stood by him always, especially in those last, hardest days.
We cannot know for certain how long we have here. We cannot foresee the trials or misfortunes that will test us along the way. We cannot know what God's plan is for us. What we can do is to live out our lives as best we can with purpose and with love and with joy. We can use each day to show those who are closest to us how much we care about them and treat others with the kindness and respect that we wish for ourselves.
We can learn from our mistakes and grow from our failures. And we can strive at all costs to make a better world so that someday, if we are blessed with a chance to look back on our time here, we know that we spent it well, that we made a difference, that our fleeting presence had a lasting impact on the lives of others.
This is how Ted Kennedy lived. This is his legacy. He once said, as has already been mentioned of his brother Bobby, that he need not be idolized or enlarged in death because what he was in life -- and I imagine he would say the same about himself. The greatest expectations were placed upon Ted Kennedy's shoulder because of who he was, but he surpassed them all because of who he became.
We do not weep for him today because of the prestige attached to his name or his office. We weep because we loved this kind and tender hero who persevered through pain and tragedy, not for the sake of ambition or vanity, not for wealth or power, but only for the people and the country that he loved.
In the days after September 11th, Teddy made it a point to personally call each one of the 177 families of this state who lost a loved one in the attack. But he didn't stop there. He kept calling and checking up on them. He fought through red tape to get them assistance and grief counseling. He invited them sailing, played with their children and would write each family a letter whenever the anniversary of that terrible day came along.
To one widow, he wrote the following, "As you know so well, the passage of time never really heals the tragic memory of such a great loss, but we carry on because we have to. Because our loved ones would want us to and because there is still light to guide us in the world from the love they gave us. We carry on."
Ted Kennedy has gone home now, guided by his faith and by the light of those he has loved and lost. At last he is with them once more, leaving those of us who grieve his passing with the memories he gave, the good that he did, the dream he kept alive. And the single enduring imagine, the imagine of a man on a boat, white mane tussled, smiling broadly as he sails into the wind, ready for whatever storms may come, carrying on towards some new and wondrous place just beyond the horizon.
May God bless Ted Kennedy, and may he rest in eternal peace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let us pray. Lord God, your son Jesus Christ gave us the sacrament of his body and blood to guide us on our pilgrimage way to your kingdom. May our dear friend Ted who shared in the eucharist come to the banquet of life Christ prepared for us. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And his Eminence Cardinal Sean O'Malley will conduct the final commendation.
CARDINAL SEAN O'MALLEY, ARCHBISHOP OF BOSTON: Mr. President, we thank you for your presence and for your words of appreciation for the life and work of Senator Kennedy. We've gathered here today to pray for a man who has been such an important part of our history and our country.
We are here because Ted Kennedy shared our belief in prayer and in eternal life. Vicki, you and the family surrounded Ted with love at the end of his life and gave us all an example of love and compassion in the face of suffering and death. We die with dignity when we are surrounded by love and such care.
And now, let us commend Ted's soul to God's loving mercy. Before we go our separate ways, let us take leave of our brother. May our farewell express our affection for him. May it ease our sadness and strengthen our hope. One day, we shall joyfully greet him again through Christ, which conquers all things, destroys even death itself.
Into your hands, Father of Mercies, we commend our brother Edward in the sure and certain hope that together with all who have died in Christ, we shall rise with him on the last day. We give you thanks for the blessings which you bestowed upon Edward in this life. They are signs to us of your goodness and of our fellowship with the saints and Christ.
Merciful Lord, turn towards us and listen to our prayers. Open the gates of paradise to your servants and help us who remain to comfort one another with assurances of faith until we all meet in Christ and are with you and with our brother forever. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
O'MALLEY: In peace, let us take our brother to his place of rest.