Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Memories of Teddy

Today is a day to remember Teddy Kennedy, so I thought I'd add my own moments.

I was an intern at the American Federation of Teachers during the 2004 presidential campaign. The AFT was visited by all of the Democratic candidates. At some point, Ted Kennedy came by to give a pep rally about the importance of the national union's work in the campaign. He brought along his dog, who I believe is the same breed as Bo Bama? The effect was electrifying and animating.

Earlier that year there was a rally outside the Department of Labor (under Secretary Chao). My intern buddies and I were sent with our AFT paraphernalia to increase the presence on a cold, rainy day. We happened to be standing a few feet from the podium, behind the speakers. With no warning, Ted Kennedy walks out of the Department of Labor building, strides up to the podium, and delivers an eloquent speech based on nothing but a few notes on a paper napkin. (I was close enough to read them!) He said, "If you work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, you should not have to live in poverty in the United States of America!"

His vision was compelling, and his way of expressing it simple and clear. I feel lucky that I had the chance to be so inspired by him, at least for those moments.

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