February 22nd marks the birthday of the late Ted Kennedy. Serving nearly half a century, the stalwart senator worked alongside ten presidents reaching achievements in health care, civil rights, education, immigration and other pressing issues. He was the first to introduce a Martin Luther King Jr Holiday. He battled for equal pay and civil rights. If you take advantage of the Family Leave Act, you can thank him for that too
For readers of my blog, you may recall my constant shameless name dropping that I had worked for a member of the Kennedy family for several years. Not surprisingly, that meant having the occasional encounter with the Lion of the Senate. My fondest memory of the Senator was when I was working in the office of his nephew, Robert Kennedy Jr. I had just made a phone call to my girlfriend (now wife) from his office when she told me she would call right back. The phone rang in seconds and I answered “What’s up Baby?” There was silence for a moment and then I heard a warm boisterous laugh. “Erah hello? Is my nephew there....baby?”
Like many Americans, I felt a sense of sadness when I heard the venerable Senator had passed away. It was the end of an era. As if Camelot was being bulldozed to put in a mini mall. No matter what side of the political wall you hang your legs, the Kennedys have had quite an impact on the lives of most Americans.
Through my own encounters with the senator, I always found him to be personable and down to earth. Qualities found in many New Englanders. I remember my last conversation with him. I was leaving my employ to study for the bar exam. He had wished me well.
I did pass the bar and began private practice. In my office, I have mementos of my time with the Kennedy family. A book of Jackie Kennedy’s favorite poems signed by her daughter Caroline sits on my bookcase, a JFK for president button hangs on my wall. The most important thing I received from my employ was the importance of public service. I incorporate it every day into my own practice. We provide free monthly legal seminars for area residents. We do a large amount of pro bono work. Our attorneys volunteer for local charities.
As a testament to the Senator’s 47 year run, I encourage you to follow in his footsteps. Make an effort to volunteer for your community.....baby.