For some people of a certain age, Ted Kennedy will always be the rich drunk who drove off the Chappaquidick Bridge and sent Mary Jo Kopechne to her watery death. For others like myself, he will always be the scandal tarnished baby brother who would never follow in the footsteps of Jack or Bobby but nevertheless did great good.
In fact, Kennedy's hands are all over virtually every major liberal Democratic legislative initiative of the past 45 years and a goodly number of bipartisan ones, as well. These include the 1980 Americans With Disabilities Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Most of us do not remember Kennedy for his accomplishments because he has been, in his own way self effacing, although there could be no more poignant a reminder of the greatness of this exemplar of noblesse oblige than when he received a sustained ovation and tears flowed copiously at the Pepsi Center last night -- and at my home.
Click here for the video and text of this imperfect but great man's valedictory.
Photograph by Stephen Crowley/The New York Times