My husband’s work will never be forgotten.
In just the past few weeks, we’ve seen Congress make monumental strides on what he called the cause of his life: ensuring that every American has access to quality, affordable health care. In the coming weeks of this bright new year, Congress will be hard at work to make Ted’s decades-long dream of health reform a reality for all Americans.
But there’s another project that Ted dedicated himself to in his final months, and I want to tell you a little bit about it: the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. The EMK Institute is being built on the campus of the University of Massachusetts, across from the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, to foster civic education among our young people, train our next generation of leaders, continue debate on the national issues Ted cared so much about, and commemorate his 47-year career.
Joan-Francesc, you stood side by side with Senator Kennedy — during our greatest victories and our most challenging setbacks. And Ted knew that his friends and loved ones would be there for him again to support the Institute and help celebrate all that he did and stood for.
A few years ago at a family gathering, Ted noted to us that we don’t have a single place in America dedicated to the study of the U.S. Senate — and we need one. Ted always believed that to inspire the brightest future for our young people, we had to understand our past. And perhaps no body of leadership tells the story of the nation more directly than the United States Senate. Every voice, debate and vote echoed in that chamber has made a mark on the course of this country.
By educating students, teachers, new Senators, and the general public about the role and importance of the Senate, Ted believed we could help inspire a new era of civic participation — and bring more people than ever before into the legislative process.
The first learning center of its kind, the EMK Institute will include a life-size representation of the Senate chamber to hold debates on critical issues with national leaders and mock U.S. Senate sessions for our country’s future leaders. There will be museum and exhibit spaces, a library, and classrooms where everyone from young children to Senate staffers will be able to participate in innovative and hands-on educational programs. Teachers will be able to work closely with the Institute to create courses and programs that add new dimensions to the study of history and government.
Ted loved this country — and he loved the United States Senate. He called it one of our forefathers’ most brilliant democratic inventions. Our mission now is to give him exactly the sort of everlasting tribute he would have loved the most — a place where young people can learn about America’s history and the role of the Senate in shaping it, and where future leaders can be born. In the weeks and months ahead, we hope you’ll join us as we build the Edward M. Kennedy Institute — and the lasting memory of Ted’s career.
Ted was so proud of the progress we’ve made as a nation in ensuring fairness, justice and opportunity for all — and he was proud that you were there to help him.
Victoria Reggie Kennedy