Mourning Edward Kennedy
THE death of Edward Kennedy of brain cancer at the age of seventy-seven is particular cause for sorrow on the part of the people of Bangladesh. The reason why such should be our feeling is not difficult to fathom. Back in the tortuous days of our struggle for liberation from Pakistan in 1971, when Bengalis were marked out for genocide and when as many as ten million of them fled to safety in neighbouring India, Senator Kennedy took up our cause in his country and in the international arena. His support gave that certain boost to our struggle that was so necessary for us at the time. The Nixon administration, in its misplaced obsession with opening a road to ties with China through making use of Pakistan, conveniently looked the other way as the then Pakistan establishment went on eliminating Bengalis. Mr. Kennedy chose to uphold reality as it then was.
It is thus that we recall the late senator. Our gratitude to him remains as real and as substantive as it did in our twilight struggle for freedom. That apart, Senator Kennedy will for long be remembered as a politician to whom the real issues which affected people mattered. In his forty-seven year career in the US senate, he sponsored or co-sponsored close to three thousand bills, all aimed at ensuring a better life for ordinary Americans. Unlike his brothers, all of whom died young and in tragic circumstances, Edward Kennedy lived to old age. In his long life, he was able to play a role in legislation that for years to come will draw the respect of Americans to him. His reputation as a politician rests on the strong foundations he developed in the senate. And just how enviable that reputation is can be gauged from the plethora of tributes pouring in for him from all across the world.
For all his legislative accomplishments, though, Senator Kennedy lived a life marked by tragedy and blunders that could have been avoided. He saw his clan suffering in various ways. He was the victim of a plane crash, the effect of which was a painful back. And then came the blunders. The death of Mary Jo Kopechne in 1969 is a tragedy that never let go of him. And then in 1980, as President Jimmy Carter's popularity plummeted, Kennedy challenged him for the Democratic Party presidential nomination but was ultimately unable to secure it.
Warts and all, Edward Kennedy was a remarkable politician. More importantly, he was one man who all his life symbolized the liberalism which once defined politics in America. We grieve for him and pray for the salvation of his soul.