The last time I saw Senator Kennedy was on Inauguration Day. It was about an hour before the ceremony began and I was trying to keep warm in the Capitol. Mrs. Kennedy was walking with him and stepped out to say a few words to me. He looked bright and happy. Of course, a few hours later he would have a seizure, but at that moment he looked content.
The Senator Kennedy I knew was never arrogant. He was as personable as the guy at the corner store. He rarely talked about himself and like great politicians always asked about others. He was, however, passionate about America and making sure that we did the right thing as he saw it. He was passionate about health care and passionate about his other legislative priorities such as minimum wage. His last great speech was one I saw him deliver a year ago this week at the Democratic National Convention. It swept all of us up in the excitement and the hope that America and its citizens can be part of this great country. His oratory reached "the least of these," as he invited us to "continue the dream."
What always struck me about Senator Kennedy was despite his internal demons and legislative achievements he remained a humble man, letting his dogs out of his car for a romp in Montrose Park in Georgetown and talking to the other dog owners, greeting guests at his home for events as if they were the only ones in the room.
He was able to accomplish so much in the Senate because that humbleness allowed him to reach across the aisle in genuine friendship with Republicans. Many of these friendships lasted for years and were as close as any two friends can be. He will be greatly missed.