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Senator Shaheen Floor Statement Remembering Senator Kennedy, September 10, 2009

Mr. President, I am honored to be here to add my voice to so many of those who today have eloquently remembered Senator Ted Kennedy. Like so many who have spoken today, I was the beneficiary of so many personal kindnesses from Senator Kennedy.

I actually first met him on the campaign trail. In 1980, I was actually on the other side in New Hampshire when he was running against Jimmy Carter. Despite the fact that was a very hard-fought campaign and we won and he lost, when I ran a winning campaign 4 years later in the New Hampshire primary, Senator Kennedy was one of the first people to call and congratulate me.

After that, I had the opportunity to campaign over the years with Senator Kennedy. There was no one who could fire up a crowd as he could. In 2000, I remember he was there for Al Gore when times were tough in New Hampshire. He was there for John Kerry in 2004. And I had the opportunity to travel around the country with him in support of John Kerry, his very good friend.

But I really got to see the difference he made in so many lives when I worked with him at the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. I had the opportunity to be chosen to be the director there, and Senator Kennedy was one of those people who helped make that decision and make that happen for me. What was so impressive was that it did not matter how busy he was with the work in Washington, with what he was doing in Massachusetts, he never missed a meeting. His first concern was always: What are the students doing? What is going to excite them? What is going to get them involved in politics and public service, because that was the mission of the Institute of Politics. It was one of two memorials that were established by the Kennedy family to remember his brother, President John Kennedy. It was always amazing to me to see someone who was so busy, so prominent in national life, who never missed an opportunity to talk with the freshman student who was there who wasn't quite sure what they wanted to do, to talk with and encourage the young people who were involved at the institute to get involved in politics, in government, in public service.

I know Senator Kennedy will be remembered by so many of the kindnesses he provided to people. He will be remembered by the tens of thousands of people whose lives he touched. But I think one of his most significant legacies will be those young people who are encouraged to get involved in politics, who appreciate that public service in government is an honorable profession because of his leadership and the work he did.

I feel very honored and privileged to have worked with him and to have had the opportunity to serve with him, however briefly, in the Senate. I know we will all remember for future generations what Senator Kennedy has done.