Posts Tagged ‘Boston

30
Mar
15

The President’s Address at the Opening of the Edward Kennedy Institute

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THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. To Vicki, Ted, Patrick, Curran, Caroline, Ambassador Smith, members of the Kennedy family — thank you so much for inviting me to speak today. Your Eminence, Cardinal O’Malley; Vice President Biden; Governor Baker; Mayor Walsh; members of Congress, past and present; and pretty much every elected official in Massachusetts — (laughter) — it is an honor to mark this occasion with you.

Boston, know that Michelle and I have joined our prayers with yours these past few days for a hero — former Army Ranger and Boston Police Officer John Moynihan, who was shot in the line of duty on Friday night. (Applause.) I mention him because, last year, at the White House, the Vice President and I had the chance to honor Officer Moynihan as one of America’s “Top Cops” for his bravery in the line of duty, for risking his life to save a fellow officer. And thanks to the heroes at Boston Medical Center, I’m told Officer Moynihan is awake, and talking, and we wish him a full and speedy recovery. (Applause.)

I also want to single out someone who very much wanted to be here, just as he was every day for nearly 25 years as he represented this commonwealth alongside Ted in the Senate — and that’s Secretary of State John Kerry. (Applause.) As many of you know, John is in Europe with our allies and partners, leading the negotiations with Iran and the world community, and standing up for a principle that Ted and his brother, President Kennedy, believed in so strongly: “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.” (Applause.)

And, finally, in his first years in the Senate, Ted dispatched a young aide to assemble a team of talent without rival. The sell was simple: Come and help Ted Kennedy make history. So I want to give a special shout-out to his extraordinarily loyal staff — (applause) — 50 years later a family more than one thousand strong. This is your day, as well. We’re proud of you. (Applause.) Of course, many of you now work with me. (Laughter.) So enjoy today, because we got to get back to work. (Laughter.)

Distinguished guests, fellow citizens — in 1958, Ted Kennedy was a young man working to reelect his brother, Jack, to the United States Senate. On election night, the two toasted one another: “Here’s to 1960, Mr. President,” Ted said, “If you can make it.” With his quick Irish wit, Jack returned the toast: “Here’s to 1962, Senator Kennedy, if you can make it.” (Laughter.) They both made it. And today, they’re together again in eternal rest at Arlington.

But their legacies are as alive as ever together right here in Boston. The John F. Kennedy Library next door is a symbol of our American idealism; the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate as a living example of the hard, frustrating, never-ending, but critical work required to make that idealism real.

What more fitting tribute, what better testament to the life of Ted Kennedy, than this place that he left for a new generation of Americans — a monument not to himself but to what we, the people, have the power to do together.

Any of us who have had the privilege to serve in the Senate know that it’s impossible not to share Ted’s awe for the history swirling around you — an awe instilled in him by his brother, Jack. Ted waited more than a year to deliver his first speech on the Senate floor. That’s no longer the custom. (Laughter.) It’s good to see Trent and Tom Daschle here, because they remember what customs were like back then. (Laughter.)

And Ted gave a speech only because he felt there was a topic — the Civil Rights Act — that demanded it. Nevertheless, he spoke with humility, aware, as he put it, that “a freshman Senator should be seen, not heard; should learn, and not teach.”

Some of us, I admit, have not always heeded that lesson. (Laughter.) But fortunately, we had Ted to show us the ropes anyway. And no one made the Senate come alive like Ted Kennedy. It was one of the great pleasures of my life to hear Ted Kennedy deliver one of his stem winders on the Floor. Rarely was he more animated than when he’d lead you through the living museums that were his offices. He could — and he would — tell you everything that there was to know about all of it. (Laughter.)

And then there were more somber moments. I still remember the first time I pulled open the drawer of my desk. Each senator is assigned a desk, and there’s a tradition of carving the names of those who had used it before. And those names in my desk included Taft and Baker, Simon, Wellstone, and Robert F. Kennedy.

The Senate was a place where you instinctively pulled yourself up a little bit straighter; where you tried to act a little bit better. “Being a senator changes a person,” Ted wrote in his memoirs. As Vicki said, it may take a year, or two years, or three years, but it always happens; it fills you with a heightened sense of purpose.

That’s the magic of the Senate. That’s the essence of what it can be. And who but Ted Kennedy, and his family, would create a full-scale replica of the Senate chamber, and open it to everyone?

We live in a time of such great cynicism about all our institutions. And we are cynical about government and about Washington, most of all. It’s hard for our children to see, in the noisy and too often trivial pursuits of today’s politics, the possibilities of our democracy — our capacity, together, to do big things.

And this place can help change that. It can help light the fire of imagination, plant the seed of noble ambition in the minds of future generations. Imagine a gaggle of school kids clutching tablets, turning classrooms into cloakrooms and hallways into hearing rooms, assigned an issue of the day and the responsibility to solve it.

Imagine their moral universe expanding as they hear about the momentous battles waged in that chamber and how they echo throughout today’s society. Great questions of war and peace, the tangled bargains between North and South, federal and state; the original sins of slavery and prejudice; and the unfinished battles for civil rights and opportunity and equality.

Imagine the shift in their sense of what’s possible. The first time they see a video of senators who look like they do — men and women, blacks and whites, Latinos, Asian-Americans; those born to great wealth but also those born of incredibly modest means.

Continue reading ‘The President’s Address at the Opening of the Edward Kennedy Institute’

18
Dec
14

A Tweet Or Two

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As Stephen Colbert says goodbye to one chapter tonight, we remember that beautiful moment he shed a tear on November 4, 2008 when Senator Obama became President Obama.

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04
Dec
14

Black Lives Must Matter

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15
Apr
14

A Moment Of Silence

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White House: President Obama observes a moment of silence to honor victims of last year’s Boston Marathon bombing. #BostonStrong

15
Apr
14

Boston Strong

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White House

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Tony Lee: Solemn Tributes Mark Anniversary Of Boston Marathon Bombing

An emotional year of recovery from the Boston Marathon bombings culminated with a stirring tribute on Tuesday to the victims, survivors and all those who helped the city overcome the tragic events of April 15, 2013. With the families of the four victims of the bombings and their aftermath sitting in the front row of the event hall at Hynes Convention Center, there were speeches from survivors, dignitaries and elected officials, as well as musical interludes led by the Boston Pops Esplanade and the Boston Children’s Chorus. Later, a ceremony in Copley Square included a moment of silence, a flag-raising at the marathon’s finish line and the toll of church bells at 2:50 p.m., the moment the bombs went off exactly one year ago. The theme was set by the first speaker, Rev. Liz Walker of Roxbury Presbyterian Church, who began by uttering the words, “There is a rising.” The reference, of course, was to the community’s remarkable rise from the ashes, as well as each of the victim’s personal journeys from pain and sadness to triumph and resolve. “There is no way to walk to Boylston Street without being reminded of the evil spilling of precious blood, the hateful strike on a world treasure,” Walker continued. “But we are also reminded of the amazing capacity of the human spirit to rise in heroism, compassion and sacrifice. “An ascension of the human spirit, left to its own devices, its divine design, it will rise, despite anything, despite everything.”

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(The Richard family with Mayor Marty Walsh)

Walker was the first to reference the victims by name. She touched on the remarkable qualities of Lingzi Lu, Krystle Campbell, Sean Collier and 8-year-old Martin Richard, qualities their loved ones retain in their memories. “Although the memories still bring tears to our eyes, our heart aches for those who were lost, it still is a comfort to be here with family and friends who got us through that tragic day,” Menino said. “I want you to hear this solemn promise,” he began. “When the lights are dim, know that our support and love for you will never waver. Whatever you have to do to recover and carry on, know that the people of Boston and I are right there by your side.” Others who were injured graced the stage at the convention center, providing some of the more poignant words of the two-hour event.

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First up was Patrick Downes, who — along with his wife — lost their left legs in the attack. Downes discussed the “humbling” degree of love that he and fellow survivors have received over the year. He would not wish the trials of recovery on anyone, but sees merit in the triumphs. “We do wish that all of you, at some point in your lives, feel as loved as we have felt over this last year,” Downes said. He also took comfort in knowing, even if only in spirit, the four “guardian angels” that were lost a year ago. “We will carry them in our hearts. To their families, know that you will never be alone. We remember those who died as pieces of us. The intellectual charm of Lingzi. Sean’s commitment to justice. Krystle’s infectious smile. And the childhood charm of Martin. We will choose to think of them not in association with hate, but forever connected to our commitment to peace. “Peace. That will be their lasting message to us.”

As rain fell and wind blew through the Back Bay, hundreds left the convention center and strolled under umbrellas toward the finish line to help reclaim that territory. With law enforcement officials lining Boylston Street and the stands in front of the Boston Public Library packed, relatives of victims emerged — followed by Menino, Biden, Walsh, Patrick and Grilk — and took a spot in front of the finish line. There, they stood at attention in the rain to take in a rendition of “God Bless America” by noted tenor Ronan Tynan. Then came a moment of silence and bells tolled from the Old South Church, steps from the finish line. An American flag was pulled skyward as the crowd sang the national anthem. MBTA transit police officer Richard Donohue Jr. helped raise the flag high above what Menino labeled as “hallowed ground.” Indeed, a year removed from the unthinkable, there was a rising.

More here

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