Defiant as ever, Teddy Kennedy took on failing health and Washington’s bitter January weather to witness the inauguration of President Obama. Nothing was going to keep him from history. But the occasion was perhaps too much. At the star-studded lunch afterwards, despite his obvious joy, Kennedy collapsed and was rushed to hospital.
But Kennedy had done his bit to get a Democrat back in the White House. He put his full weight behind Obama, a man likened by some to JFK himself.
Despite his cancer, Kennedy had campaigned vigorously for Obama throughout the primary battle with Hillary Clinton. Perhaps he too saw something in Obama which reminded him of the spirit of his elder brother.
The youngest of nine children, Teddy Kennedy’s life was marked by glamour and tragedy. Overshadowed somewhat by his famous brothers, He was first elected to the Senate in 1962 to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of John on becoming president.
A year later, John was assassinated in Dallas. Just five years later, a second brother was gone, Robert Kennedy killed in Los Angeles during his own tilt at the presidency. After the twin tragedies it fell to Edward to represent the Kennedys. But any hopes of his own White House bid were dashed by the death of Mary-Jo Koppechne in a car accident at Chappaquiddick in 1969. Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a crime and received a two-month suspended sentence.
Kennedy was re-elected seven times as the Senator for Massachussetts. He was America’s second-longest serving senator, with the reputation both as a liberal policymaker and a man able to strike deals. Teddy Kennedy had five children from two marriages, and was a surrogate father to the 13 children of his two dead brothers.