BY Kerry Eleveld
August 28 2009 1:35 PM ET
“He had heard what had happened and he wanted to express his sadness,” Smith, who had worked for the senator, recalled in a very emotional moment earlier this week. “It was just the most touching thing that the first person to call me was him."
Ted Kennedy, while not perfect and certainly no stranger to controversy, was the ultimate vision of humanity. He had a unique instinct -- all too rare today -- to run toward people who were downtrodden, shunned, targeted by the mob mentality that sweeps our nation so swiftly and fervently these days.
His was a compassion born of personal tragedy that defies words. While I would wish the losses of Ted Kennedy on no one, our country yearns for more individuals, and especially leaders, like him. His life is a testimony to the immeasurable richness that hard-fought, gut-wrenching, soul-stirring pain can foster within people. Every one of us needs a Ted Kennedy in our life and should be so lucky as to have one.
A great man once said, “I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.”
Little did President John F. Kennedy know on that day in 1962 that his words would imbue the life of no man more wholly than that of his little brother Teddy.