My fondest memory was attending one of his St. Patrick's Day fundraisers here in Washington. His guest of honor was John Hume, the Irish politician who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the Irish peace process. He sang "The Town I Love So Well" and there was not a dry eye in the room, including Ted's. He really wore his Irishness on his sleeve, which was one of the many reasons I loved him.
I never knew the days of NINA (No Irish Need Apply) that my parents and grandparents experienced. John Kennedy was sworn in as senator from Massachusetts 5 months before I was born and, outside of the flunky seat warmer who held the office before Ted was old enough to claim it, Massachusetts has been represented by a Kennedy in the Senate my entire life and I'm 56 years old. I've never been anything but proud, even boastful, of my Boston Irish heritage. And I think I have the Kennedys to thank for that, even with all their flaws. Their commitment to causes beyond themselves is a proud family legacy, epitomized by Ted.
I feel like a massive hole has opened up at the center of American politics that may not be filled in my lifetime, which makes me very sad. I hope I'm wrong.