Over the years, several of my more conservative friends have criticized me for seeing Ted Kennedy as a hero. They make legitimate points about Ted Kennedy’s atrocious conduct in Chappaquidick and his years of excessive drinking and womanizing before his marriage to Vicki Reggie. I have no excuses for his behavior at that period of his life. I have never heard a liberal try to offer excuses for Kennedy’s flaws.
Ted Kennedy is my hero because of his work to redeem himself from the mistakes of his life. I compare him to Theon Greyjoy, a character in Game of Thrones who worked to redeem himself from the terrible things he did early in his life. Kennedy met privately with Mary Jo Kopechne’s parents to apologize for his inexcusable actions. After Kennedy started dating and eventually married Vicki Reggie 1992, he cleaned up his private life. Kennedy worked to pass legislation that helped the poor, the working class, minority groups and anyone who was marginalized in society.
Senator Kennedy was responsible for more than 300 major pieces of legislation, including the Immigration and Nationality Act, the National Cancer Act, the Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments, the COBRA Act, the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Ryan White AIDS Care Act, the Civil Rights Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the Mental Health Parity Act, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, the No Child Left Behind Act, and the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.
Senator Kennedy opposed the Vietnam War, led the Congressional fight to impose sanctions against South Africa over apartheid, succeeded in banning arm sales to Chile’s dictator Augusto Pinochet, helped greatly in the long effort to bring peace to Northern Ireland, and fought for civil rights for African Americans, Hispanics, immigrants, LGBTQ people, the disability community and other minority communities, .
One of Senator Ted Kennedy’s greatest accomplishments was in strengthening the Meals On Wheels program, the federal program offering nutritional meals to homebound seniors.
Today nearly 7.1 million senior citizens live in poverty. They live on an income of $234 a week or less, which, after housing, utility and medical expenses, leaves very little for food. Older adults living at or below poverty are nearly twice as likely as those living above the poverty level to have limitations in their ability to live independently.
The Meals on Wheels program offers to both provide nutritional meals and combat social isolation for 2.4 million senior citizens.
This 2016 video shows what you can do as a volunteer for the St. Vincent Meals On Wheels program, the largest privately funded Meals On Wheels program in the country.
Loaves and Fishes Meals on Wheels People serves and delivers 5,000 meals every weekday to seniors at 35 neighborhood dining rooms in the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area.