Sen. Ted Kennedy, patriarch of one of the most powerful political dynasties in American history and long-time liberal lion of the Democratic Party, died late last night at his Massachusetts home in Hyannis Port, reports the New York Times. “We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever," said a statement from his family. Kennedy, 77, had been battling brain cancer for more than a year.
It was a momentous year for Kennedy. He lived to see the inauguration of the nation's first black president and major steps toward health care reform, which he called "the cause of my life." In 46 years as a senator, he focused on health care, education, civil rights, and labor issues. He exerted a "long, steady glow" in his political influence, said one observer. "When you survey the impact of the Kennedys on American life and politics and policy, he will end up by far being the most significant.”