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Statement of Congressman Neal on the passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy

August 26, 2009
Press Release

(SPRINGFIELD, MASS) Congressman Richard E. Neal released the following statement on the passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy who died at his home last night in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts after a long illness. He was 77 years old.

"With the passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has lost its greatest champion, and the United States of America has lost one of its strongest voices for fairness, equality and justice. Personally, I have lost a treasured friend. From civil rights to health care, from voting rights to Head Start, Ted Kennedy played a significant role in the passage of some of the most important legislation in our lifetime. I have often said his record in the United States Senate is unrivaled. And I believe history will remember him as the most effective individual to ever serve in that institution.

The Ted Kennedy his friends and colleagues knew was a kind, considerate, generous, funny, thoughtful and hard working person whose presence lit up the room. His personality and charisma were contagious. He loved his family and spoke about them with great pride. During good times and bad, he was always there with a phone call or a note. When it came to western and central Massachusetts, he always offered to help. He was a master of detail. His ability to work across the aisle was legendary. At the end of the day, Ted Kennedy made a difference in the lives of countless individuals.

For the past year he faced one of the most difficult challenges of his life. But he did so with characteristic dignity and grace. Whether it was sailing on Cape Cod in his beloved Mya, or throwing out the first pitch at Fenway Park, he taught us how to live life while facing adversity. And in the process he became an inspiration for us all.

I became interested in public service during John F. Kennedy's historic campaign for president nearly 50 years ago. Since then, I have been an outspoken and loyal supporter of the Kennedy family. It has been the honor of a lifetime to call Ted Kennedy my friend. His extraordinary life and legacy will never be forgotten. During this difficult hour, my thoughts and prayers are with Vicki, Kara, Edward Jr, Patrick, Curran, Caroline and the rest of the Kennedy family. May he rest in peace."