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Editorial: ‘Teddy’ leaves legacy, call to public service

Published 10:43am Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009

On Saturday, the nation, family, friends and countless political figures said goodbye to one of its most beloved public servants.

Regardless of his political affiliation, friends and fellow lawmakers from both sides of the party line remember Massachusetts state Senator Edward “Teddy” Kennedy as an undeniable force in Washington, a devoted servant to his government and his constituents.

His death marks not only the end of a dynasty, the last, the youngest of Joseph and Rose Kennedy’s sons, but leaves a feeling of immense emptiness on the senate floor and in the world of government.

Kennedy may not have been meant to serve his nation from a chair in the Oval Office as his brother but whereas a lost bid for presidency may send many other political contenders into the fold – Kennedy embraced his work in the senate and tirelessly fought for the issues he kept close to his heart.

If there is to be any lasting legacy of the life of Edward “Teddy” Kennedy alone, it would be that dedication is ones own community, government and nation and the causes that affect the people.

And so a call to service is now set up on the future generations of America as the mourning of such a public figure of these current and past generations settles into silence when he was laid to rest, next to his brothers John and Robert in Arlington National Cemetery.

Kennedy, to be sure, would remind all Americans both Republican and Democrat that while there are times Americans face a shortage of jobs, a shortage of healthcare coverage and even a shortage of income – there is never a shortage of opportunity to give back to ones own community.

To do just that here at home, the Volunteer Center of Southwest Michigan ( offers a quick and easy search of volunteer opportunities in the area. The State Department of Human Services also provides avenues for giving back and volunteerism. Visitors to the site, can get information on opportunities to give back in Michigan including Michigan’s AmeriCorps program.

Kennedy’s name and history of legislative work will be evident again later this month. It was before the senator’s death, earlier this year that President Obama put his signature on the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. According to, the act specifically and officially recognizes Sept. 11 as a national day of service and remembrance. It would seem no better time would come to give some of one’s time to their community, to the people around them that could benefit from their kindness than in the remembrance of Senator Kennedy and all of those whose lives were lost on one of America’s most tragic days. The website, a product of The Corporation for National and Community Service, can also be used as a means of finding opportunities for public and community service. Those who have projects available and are in need of volunteers can register their project with the site.

The opportunities are available and they are accessible. Be a mentor, a lunch buddy or donate to any number of our local, charitable organizations such as the Niles-Buchanan Salvation Army or the United Way.

And … as our government searches for Kennedy’s successor, a reminder is given that some of the greatest endeavors can occur within the world of government.

So it is, that support for those political science and government programs within our schools are, as well, something that should not be discounted as the nation awaits future generations of political leaders who will, no doubt, usher in new eras of change for their communities and their country.

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