Wednesday, August 26, 2009

First One Then Another

Regardless of your politics, it’s hard to ignore the impact Senator Ted Kennedy has had on this country. The news of his passing so close on the passing of his sister, Eunice, has saddened me greatly. I firmly believe that the lives of people with disabilities have been positively influenced by both Kennedys.

Several years back, when the reauthorization of IDEA was being formulated, I drove to Washington, DC to meet with Senator Kennedy. I wanted to give him a first hand account of what it was like to raise a child with significant disabilities. I wanted him to hear about the joys and the struggles, the fight for an education, and all the medical battles. Honestly, I expected my meeting to be relegated to an aide, someone who would politely listen and promise to share my thoughts with the Senator. But Senator Kennedy himself met with me for about an hour.

I was, of course, quite intimidated, but he immediately put me at ease. It was impossible to ignore the fire in his eyes when he discussed people with disabilities. This was not a man just saying what he thought I wanted to hear. He believed with his entire being that both the life and the education of children with disabilities could be improved. And he went on to fight for that improvement.

So today my heartfelt condolences go out to his family, and I firmly believe this nation, and especially people with disabilities, has lost a warrior. Rest in peace, Senator.

Below is the eulogy Ted Kennedy delivered at his brother, Bobby's funeral. The words are as heartfelt and significant today as they were then.


MB said...

That is amazing that he actually met with you, since you are not a constituent. My brother worked on the hill, and senators meet with no one! How special.

Senator Kennedy got huge grants to promote cued speech for deaf and hard of hearing kids. We're all going to miss his caring heart.

Ashley's Mom said...

Monica, it was only through an old family connection that the appointment was made. I figure the senator had just had a cancellation, was finished with lunch, and was putting off whatever was next on his agenda. Otherwise, I *might* have gotten the aide :)