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Ted Kennedy: A profile in resilience

The senator faced down family tragedy, personal recklessness, and political setbacks in his long efforts to serve the public.

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Ted Kennedy persevered.

Through family tragedy. Through personal recklessness. Through a long Senate career of fighting for liberal (but not only) causes: healthcare, social justice, education.

The world needs more of his kind of resilience in individuals who seek to help others, whether of the left or right. Setbacks and adversity can stalk, but those who face down hardship – soldiers, parents, and, yes, even politicians – are the ones who get things done. Even if they fail to achieve their goals, their stick-to-itiveness can inspire others.

Edward Kennedy, the senator from Massachusetts who died Tuesday, had more to face than most people. He lost three brothers – one to war, two to assassinations. He tried to overcome the "Chappaquiddick" scandal of 1969, in which a young woman in his car drowned when the senator drove off a bridge and waited 10 hours before calling police.

In 1980, he lost a grueling primary battle to wrest the Democratic presidential nomination from then-President Jimmy Carter.

But his resilience carried him forward through a highly productive Senate career, a reminder of what a powerful platform the Senate can be with the right political skills – and longevity (nearly 47 years as a senator, the third-longest run in US Senate history). He was author or coauthor of more than 2,500 bills.

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