Tributes Flowing in for Ted Kennedy

| by AFL-CIO

The death of Sen. Edward Kennedy has sparked tributes from around the globe, from those who knew him best in his home state of Massachusetts, to world leaders. We include some of these here, mindful that as former Labor Secretary Robert Reich wrote:

Most Americans will never know how many things Ted Kennedy did to make their lives better, how many things he prevented that would have hurt them, and how tenaciously he fought on their behalf.

Be sure to stop by the Edward Kennedy tribute site at: www.tedkennedy.org/tributes.

-- Ted Kennedy was not just a senator for Massachusetts; he was our senator—a senator for working people, for poor people, for the old and the vulnerable. For all those who needed a champion, he was our champion. He personified a sense of aspiration that has become America’s aspiration—to make things better, to make them more fair, to make our nation more compassionate and hopeful, to make life work for working men and women.
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney

-- Ted Kennedy epitomized humanity in every sense of the word. His larger-than-life presence was only outpaced by his kindness in the form of even the smallest, most humane gestures. —Robert Haynes, president, Massachusetts AFL-CIO

-- His death will be greeted with a great sense of sadness here because of his long standing affection for this country, not just with the peace process, but on many other issues, including emigration. —Mary McAleese, president of Ireland

-- Because of Senator Kennedy, millions of American families have been able to achieve the American Dream, afford an education for their children, are safer on their jobs and have a secure retirement, Cohen said. We will extend that legacy when we achieve one of Senator Kennedy’s greatest passions, health care for all. —CWA President Larry Cohen

-- He worked tirelessly to lift Americans out of poverty, advance the cause of civil rights, and provide opportunity to all. He fought to the very end for the cause of his life-ensuring that all Americans have the health care they need. —Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.)

-- Beyond what he achieved on the national stage, Ted Kennedy was an empathetic and caring man. He stayed in contact with families who lost loved ones on 9/11 and remained in touch long after the cameras were gone. The tragedies he experienced made him especially compassionate when others endured their own hardships. —AFSCME President Gerald McEntee

-- Senator Kennedy was one of the greatest champions of older Americans in our nation’s history. Senior citizens are deeply indebted to him for his lifetime of achievements and leadership, from the beginning of his Senate career until the end. —Alliance for Retired Americans

-- Sen. Kennedy will always be a part of the AFT family. And we will honor his memory by continuing his life’s work-his passion for social justice, his special concern for the most vulnerable among us, and his belief that government can and should be a force for good. There is so much left to be done, but we will pursue our shared goals with the commitment and courage that Sen. Kennedy brought to every cause he championed. —AFT President Randi Weingarten

-- Senator Edward M. Kennedy was the field general in the fight for civil rights. An eloquent advocate, a skilled strategist, and an unequaled coalition-builder, Ted Kennedy was the most effective senator of his generation and a leader in achieving every major legislative advance during his service in the Senate. From the Civil Rights Act of 1964 through the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, the cause of civil and human rights had no better friend than Senator Edward M. Kennedy. —Wade Henderson, president, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights

-- We have lost a great light in our lives and our politics, and it will never be the same again. —Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)

-- Unwavering in his principles and yet open-hearted to those who disagreed with him, the Senator always went the extra mile to fight for American workers, children, women, seniors and families. —Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.)

-- Even facing illness and death, he never stopped fighting for the causes which were his life’s work…. He led the world in championing children’s education and health care, and believed that every single child should have the chance to realize their potential to the full. —Gordon Brown, prime minister of Great Britain

-- His spirit will continue to lift the hearts of all who seek fairness and compassion in our lives. —Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.)

-- Senator Kennedy was Congress’s moral compass regarding issues affecting working Americans. It was his vision and tenacity as a Senator and national leader that propelled millions of Americans to middle-class jobs and lives. —Ed Wytkind, president, AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department

-- Senator Kennedy’s death is an incalculable loss to the country. His leadership on so many issues, and his emphasis on reducing unfairness in our lives made him one of our greatest national assets. —Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.)

-- He fought to open doors of opportunity for those who had been shut out of society, and worked tirelessly to make the American dream real for everyone, from all walks of life. —Ron Gettelfinger, president, UAW

-- He played a particularly important role in the formative days of the Northern Ireland Peace Process. He maintained a strong and genuine interest in its progress. He used his political influence wisely. He was the voice of moderation and common sense. —Brian Cowen, prime minister of Ireland

-- Ted Kennedy appealed to the best in us, to the American verities that are written not on water but in stone. He appealed to our sense of justice, to our sense of responsibility to each other, and to our uniquely American sense of hope and possibility. —Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)

-- While we have lost an American treasure today, Senator Kennedy’s rich legacy, historic legislative record and deep commitment to positive change for all Americans will continue to be felt for generations to come. —Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

-- [Kennedy was] a voice for those who would otherwise go unheard. —Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the United Nations

-- America has lost an older brother in the death of Ted Kennedy. We must all be fortunate that we are still alive, and around to fight for a public health insurance plan available for all Americans that Ted would have loved to fight for. —Mike Elk, Campaign for America’s Future

-- In his honor and as a tribute to his commitment to his ideals, let us stop the shouting and name calling and have a civilized debate on health care reform which I hope, when legislation has been signed into law, will bear his name for his commitment to insuring the health of every American. —Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.).