In His Own Words

"For all my years in public life, I have believed that America must sail toward the shores of liberty and justice for all. There is no end to that journey, only the next great voyage. We know the future will outlast all of us, but I believe that all of us will live on in the future we make."

HISTORIC MOMENTS

 

The Beginning of a Lifetime of Service

March 14, 1962 | Boston, Massachusetts
1962 Senate Candidacy Announcement
Senator Kennedy’s parents taught he and his brothers and sisters an important lesson early in life: much is expected of those to whom much has been given. In March of 1962, Senator Kennedy entered the United States Senate, filling the seat of his brother President Kennedy. Senator Kennedy went on to serving 47 years in the Senate, making him the third longest serving Senator of all time.
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First Floor Speech

April 8, 1964 | Floor of the United States Senate
Standing Up for Equality and Staring Down Discrimination
On April, 9, 1964, barely four months after the assassination of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, Senator Kennedy took to the Senate floor and gave his maiden speech on the floor of the United States Senate. He chose as his topic the paramount domestic issue of the day, and urged support of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination in employment, education and public accommodations. Senator Kennedy tirelessly fought throughout his career to end discrimination and ensure justice, fairness and equal opportunity for all.
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Tribute to Robert F. Kennedy

June 8, 1968 | St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York, N.Y.
Senator Kennedy’s Tribute to Robert F. Kennedy
On June 8, 1968 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, Senator Kennedy eulogized his brother Robert “as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.”
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Hamburger Hill Speech

May 20, 1969
Calling for an End to Military Operations in Vietnam
At the height of our nation’s involvement in the war in Vietnam, Senator Kennedy called on President Nixon to begin an immediate drawdown of our forces in that region. In his speech, Senator Kennedy argues that “American boys are too valuable to be sacrificed for a false sense of military pride.”
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Liberty Baptist College Speech

October 3, 1969 | Liberty College, Lynchburg, Virginia
A Call for Tolerance in Religious and Political Beliefs
At a time in which the religious right gained prominence in American politics, Senator Kennedy spoke to the student body of Liberty Baptist College as a guest of the Rev. Jerry Falwell and called for an end to religious intolerance in American political debate.
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Lowering the National Voting Age to 18

March 9, 1970 | Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments
Voting Age to 18 Testimony Before the Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments
With the voting age at that time set at 21 years of age, Senator Kennedy argued that it was wrong that young Americans could be drafted to serve in Vietnam, but could not vote. Sensing an overwhelming amount of support in Congress for giving 18 year-olds the right to vote in federal, state and local elections, Senator Kennedy took the battle to the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments. With his support it passed and millions of young people have been able to take part our nation’s political process as a result.
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Democratic National Convention Health Care

December 9, 1978 | Memphis, Tennessee
Health Care for All. A Right Not a Privilege.
When cancer affected his son Teddy at an early age, Senator Kennedy made it the cause of his career to ensure that all Americans have access to high quality, affordable health care.
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1980 Democratic National Convention

August 12, 1980 | Democratic National Convention, New York City
And the Dream Shall Never Die
Senator Kennedy addressed the Democratic National Convention in New York City in 1980 after a heated primary campaign. During his dramatic speech he called for a renewed commitment to social and economic justice for all.
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Ending the Cold War with a Nuclear Freeze

June 4, 1983 | Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
“Star Wars Speech.” EMK Address at the Brown University Commencement Forum.
As the world was bearing witness to a dangerous and escalating nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union that threatened to end civilization as we knew it, Senator Kennedy challenged President Reagan policies and declared that the “best defense against nuclear war is arms control and then disarmament.”
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Ending Segregation and Discrimination Against Disabled Americans

September 7, 1989
Floor Statement Praising the Passage of the ADA
Senator Kennedy was a chief sponsor, together with Senator Tom Harkin, of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which ensures that millions of disabled Americans are able to live productive lives free from discrimination in public accommodations and employment. The ADA requires that public facilities accommodate the needs of disabled Americans, and that employers make reasonable accommodations for disabled workers.
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Peace for Northern Ireland

January 9, 1998 | University of Ulster, Derry, Northern Ireland
Peace for the People of Northern Ireland
In January of 1998, Senator Kennedy visited Northern Ireland to meet with its opposing political parties and to address its people about the need for peace. This speech at the University of Ulster and the inclusive peace talks that accompanied it led to the Good Friday Peace Agreement and the most promising opportunity for lasting peace in the three-decade old conflict in Northern Ireland.
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Speech Against the Invasion of Iraq

September 27, 2002 | Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
Iraq: A War of Choice
In September 2002, as the Bush Administration was preparing to go to war in Iraq without the support of the international community, Senator Kennedy, in a historic speech at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, was the first to argue that Iraq did not pose the type of threat that justified immediate, pre-emptive war. When no one else would, Senator Kennedy argued that America should not rush to war and that we should get UN inspectors back into Iraq without conditions.
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Senator Kennedy Rallies for Immigration

April 10, 2006 | National Mall, Washington, D.C.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy Rallies for Immigration
In 2006, Senator Kennedy introduced a bill with Senator John McCain to reform the nation’s immigration laws and to bring fairness and justice to immigrant families. In the midst of great political opposition to the bill, Senator Kennedy was one of few national political leaders to join immigrants in their rallies around the country. Over 200,000 people joined Senator Kennedy to fight for fair immigration reform.
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Hate Crimes Speech

September 25, 2007 | Standing Against Hate
Senator Kennedy on the Matthew Shepard Act
Facing a veto threat from the President of the United States and an uncertain vote in the U.S. Senate, Senator Kennedy fought to pass the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Eventually signed into law in a later Congress, this legislation broadens existing law to prohibit hate crimes against women, gays, lesbians, and transgender persons; and gives prosecutors enhanced ability to charge and penalize those who commit hate crimes.
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Senator Kennedy’s Obama Endorsement Speech

January 28, 2008 | American University, Washington, D.C.
Passing the Torch to a New Generation
On January 28, 2008 Senator Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama for President at American University. Embracing Senator Obama’s message of hope and change, Senator Kennedy stood with his niece Caroline and passed the torch to a new generation of Americans.
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2008 Democratic National Convention

August 25, 2008 | Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
And the Dream Lives On
In a surprise appearance at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Senator Kennedy spoke about new leadership and the hope for a “better country and a newer world.”
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Serve America Act

April 21, 2009 | SEED School, Washington, D.C.
Remarks of Senator Edward M. Kennedy at the Signing of the Serve America Act
In 2008, Senator Kennedy and Senator Hatch introduced the Serve America Act to expand and improve national service opportunities for Americans at all stages of life. The Serve America Act uses service to meet specific national challenges – from tackling the dropout crisis and safeguarding the environment to improving health care in low-income communities and expanding economic opportunities for low-income individuals. In a fitting tribute, Kennedy’s colleagues renamed the legislation, “The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.” Kennedy, battling brain cancer, attended and delivered remarks at the bill signing with President Obama.
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