I have been a proud member of the liberal community for 30 years and without question Ted Kennedy has been our champion and and our leader. Despite having been a senior member of the 1980 Carter campaign against Teddy Kennedy I never bore him any ill will. Kennedy believed in his progressive agenda enough to challenge a sitting president of his own party knowing that by doing so probably doomed his chances for the 1984 nomination -- which would have been his for the asking had he not opposed Jimmy Carter..

There are so many facets of the man's character that deserve recognition here but two stand out: One was his loyalty to an extended family he inherited upon the assassinations of his two brothers. Through the many hardships the Kennedy family has endured it fell to Teddy to bear the collective burden of the family's pain. He did so with strength and dignity.

The second little know attribute about Ted Kennedy was his ability to forge friendships with many of his Republican colleagues. These relationships then helped Kennedy forge one of the most extensive and important legislative records in the history of the U.S. Senate. Ted Kennedy was known as the "Lion of the Senate" for good reason. He protected his friends, negotiated with his adversaries with honor and integrity, and when all else failed he would rise up as the true Lion King and fight with remarkable strength and courage for those who could not defend themselves.

Calling Ted Kennedy a great man does not do him justice. He was a singularly unique man willing to sail against the wind whose record of public service will stand virtually alone among our  country's greatest public servants.

Bob Beckel currently serves as co-host of FOX News Channel's (FNC) The Five (weekdays 5-6PM/ET). He first joined FNC as a contributor in 2000 and rejoined in 2011 as co-host of The Five. Click here for more information on Bob Beckel