Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Senator Edward M. Kennedy

The 1.6 million members of AFSCME join Americans of all walks of life in mourning the loss of our closest ally and most steadfast friend in the U.S. Senate, Ted Kennedy. During Senator Kennedy’s nearly 47 years as a servant of the entire nation, the labor movement developed an especially close relationship with him, and AFSCME was proud to stand with him in every political effort he made. We stood by his side when he ran against Jimmy Carter because Ted Kennedy was such a great champion for working people and families.

Senator Kennedy called health care reform the cause of his life, first advocating for national health care in 1966. He made a surprise return to the Senate last summer to cast the decisive vote for the Democrats on a Medicare bill. In his memory, we must continue to do all we can to realize his goal of health care reform.

Beyond what he achieved on the national stage, Ted Kennedy was an empathetic and caring man. He stayed in contact with families who lost loved ones on 9/11 and remained in touch long after the cameras were gone. The tragedies he experienced made him especially compassionate when others endured their own hardships.

For me this loss is particularly difficult. He was not just an ally, but a dear friend. But while Senator Kennedy will no longer raise his voice on our behalf, we will forever remember what he gave all of us: his life, his passion, his commitment to a more fair and equitable nation. In remembrance of him, let us all keep fighting for the causes he championed so willingly and so well, and rededicate ourselves to winning national health care reform.

- AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee on the Death of Senator Kennedy

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