Forty-eight years ago today, a young girl and her two friends ran out into the street at South Boston's St. Patrick's Day Parade to shake the hand of Senator Ted Kennedy. That girl was me, and my friends Sara and Katie were as amazed as I was to see our encounter with Senator Kennedy in a photo on the front page of the Boston Globe. Being Irish kids from Massachusetts, this was a very big deal for high school girls like us.
Although my family knew the Kennedy's and Tip O'Neill was a familiar face in my life, being my friend Kathy's uncle, and a regular visitor to her folk's seaside summer house, but, meeting Senator Kennedy on our own was quite a thrill. Living on what was called "the Irish Riviera" made prominent politicians a common sight in the 1950s and 1960s. There is something quite wonderful about being Irish on St. Patrick's Day in Boston, New York or Chicago. The outpouring of Irish Pride is a sight to behold, especially when you consider that many millions of Americans are at least part Irish. And as they say, on St. Patrick's Day, everyone is Irish. Green beer, hot crossed buns, corn beef and cabbage fills the air, Leprechauns and pots of gold fill the imagination, and the soft lilt of brogues, both real and affected tickle the ear, it is a grand, grand, day! Erin go Bragh!
So here I am, these many years later, thinking about Ted Kennedy and the struggle to pass Health Care Reform that is currently set to be voted on in just a few days. Health Care for All Americans is a goal Senator Ted Kennedy worked toward his entire adult life. It is impossible to think of Health Care Reform without thinking of Teddy and his many contributions. In 1962, I was starstruck by a tall, young, Senator Ted Kennedy. Today, I am just deeply grateful that he chose to spend his life in service to the American people. There will never be a St. Patrick's Day when Senator Kennedy will not be in my thoughts, as I remember his life and work, with sincere gratitude.