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Obama on Ted Kennedy: 'An important chapter in our history has come to an end'

August 26, 2009 |  4:33 am

President John F. Kennedy, Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy and Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy

He is the last of the Kennedy brothers who rode across the national stage to shape American leadership in the 20th century. Now Ted Kennedy is dead, at 77.

Edward Moore Kennedy was the youngest brother of President John F. Kennedy, assassinated in 1963, and New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, assassinated in 1968. A fourth brother, Joseph Kennedy Jr., anointed as the family’s chosen envoy to the political world, died during World War II.

They were Joe Kennedy’s sons, tethered to pride in power and money, and they were Rose Kennedy’s sons, brought up to respect church and public service. Ted Kennedy, after a youth of fast cars and carousing....

... became a passionate and serious defender of the have-nots. For his fervent commitment to his brothers' agenda -- civil rights, education and healthcare reform -- they called him The Lion of the Senate.

Early this morning, President Obama issued a statement from Martha's Vineyard, where he and family are vacationing.

Ted Kennedy, along with Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the slain young President Kennedy, passed the mantle of Camelot to the young Obama early in last year's campaign. It was an embrace of memory, a recognition that in the Illinois senator and his stylish wife Michelle there was an echo of the charisma that had come to characterize the Kennedy White House.

Here is the president’s statement, as provided by the White House.

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary
_________________________________________________________________For Immediate Release                             August 26, 2009

Statement from President Obama:

Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy.

For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts. 

I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague.  I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency.  And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've profited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.

An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time.

And the Kennedy family has lost their patriarch, a tower of strength and support through good times and bad.

Our hearts and prayers go out to them today--to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family.   ###

 -- Johanna Neuman

Photo Credit: Undated file photo of John, Robert and Ted Kennedy / Associated Press

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