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The last week has been filled with tributes and memorials to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts. Even now, talk has begun to heat up about who will take his seat in the Senate, though nobody will ever really replace him. But in honor of the hard work and dedication he showed to union carpenters and blue collar families, it is appropriate to share some of the sentiments expressed during the last week??s events.
Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters released a statement on Thursday. He was also quoted in two stories in the Boston Herald last week; the first about the meaning of Kennedy??s loss to unions, the other about his skills as a public speaker.
Below are Erlich??s formal statement and some other quotes taken from various events and statements of the past week that highlight why Senator Kennedy will be so missed. The UBC has created a page on its website dedicated to Senator Kennedy.
??His passing marks the end of a remarkable career dedicated to representing and serving the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and poor and middle class families throughout our country.
??The Carpenters Union had a special affection for Senator Kennedy, one which grew out of his dedication to ??bread and butter?? issues that impacted the daily lives of blue collar workers. His legacy will be his work on issues such as health care, civil rights, education, worker safety and minimum wage. Working people looked to Senator Kennedy and found a powerful and influential person fighting for them. He won so many important legislative victories through fierce advocacy, bipartisan coalition-building and a legendary knowledge of the legislative process.
??Though memorials will feature his legendary speeches and family history, many here in Massachusetts will remember the service he provided. In a time of need, Senator Kennedy??s office could be relied on to return a call, explain an issue or cut through bureaucratic red tape. Simply put, he cared. Though born to a mythical political family, he approached his work with a pride and dedication that was easily recognizable to his constituents and we loved him because of that."
New England Regional Council of Carpenters
??My father taught me to treat everyone I meet, no matter what station in life, with the same dignity and respect. He could be discussing arm control with the president at 3 p.m. and meeting with a union carpenter on fair wage legislation or a New Bedford fisherman on fisheries policy at 4:30.??
Ted Kennedy, Jr.
??Ted Kennedy's life's work was not to champion those with wealth or power or special connections. It was to give a voice to those who were not heard; to add a rung to the ladder of opportunity; to make real the dream of our founding. He was given the gift of time that his brothers were not, and he used that gift to touch as many lives and right as many wrongs as the years would allow.??
President Barack Obama
??He was in the forefront on issues such as health and safety, minimum wage, workers?? rights, civil rights, and health care,?? General President McCarron said. ??There isn??t anything that has happened with regard to worker protection and worker rights that he didn??t have his fingerprints on.
??He was always willing, in order to get legislation passed, to take that step back and let somebody else take credit for the bill. He did that very effectively.??
United Brotherhood of Carpenters
??Teddy had this wonderful way about him, where he could just sense in anyone when they needed a helping hand??He was always there and that??s what it was. He was telling me never, ever, ever, ever, ever give up. You stay in the race! And if people don??t have health insurance you stay in the race and if people don??t have adequate housing you stay in the race. If people aren??t being treated properly, you stay in the race??
??This was a man who cared so deeply about those on the outside of political and economic power; people who struggle, struggle each every day, to just get by. He lived his whole life, fighting for those people??
??I ask each one of you to rededicate yourself to the same goals and ideals that Senator Ted Kennedy lived his life for. He lived to make this world a better place and our country and this world is a better place because of the life of Ted Kennedy.??
Joseph P. Kennedy, II
Nephew, Former Congressman
Much of the memorial celebration held on Friday night can be viewed on YouTube, in multiple parts. The opening, with a statement by longtime friend Paul Kirk, Jr. can be seen here. Many of the other clips can be accessed through the "related videos" section to the bottom right.