That day may go down in history as one of the pivotal events in bringing about national health reform - a goal that has eluded national leaders for a generation. That was the day that Senator Edward Kennedy delivered a letter to the leaders of our state: the Governor, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House, urging them to amend the law to provide for a temporary gubernatorial appointment (pending the results of a special election) "should a senate vacancy occur." Of course, we all knew what vacancy he was talking about: the one that would be brought about by his impending death.
At a time when this man had everything else in the world to think about, when he had every right to wallow in self pity, he chose instead to make this urgent appeal because he knew that it could make all the difference in the world. He invoked the names of John Adams and Daniel Webster to underscore the fact that the "voices and views" of Massachusetts representatives in Congress "have shaped America's progress."
As it turns out, Senator Kennedy's words were prophetic. Paul Kirk - the Senator appointed by Governor Patrick after the law was changed - will likely cast the 60th and deciding vote to pass health reform in the Senate. Without him, they would not have the votes. And by the time a new Senator will be elected and sworn in, it probably will be too late.
Ted Kennedy's emotional plea undoubtedly had a large impact on the Governor and the Massachusetts legislature to amend the law, as there was strong political pressure to do otherwise. Ted Kennedy will no doubt be in the history books alongside Adams and Webster. And for his many acts over his long career, this one on July 2nd may turn out to be one of the most significant in shaping America's progress on an issue so near and dear to his heart.