Flags are flying at half staff today in memory of Massachusetts' Senator Ted Kennedy. The Senator lost his bout with brain cancer Tuesday night he was 77.
Described by many as the liberal lion of the senate, Senator Ted Kennedy will not be a law maker soon forgotten. "He appeared in my high school gymnasium and talked about his trip to South America," says Grand Junction resident, Dave Kearsley, Kearsley used to live in Massachusetts and had the chance to follow the senator's political career from early on. Kearsley says, "He was clearly a liberal and made no bones about it."
It was also clear that Kennedy strived to make a difference in the lives of Americans. Working hard to help establish programs like WIC. Pat Stiles, the supervisor of the local WIC program says, "Women Infant and Children is one of the best outcome based nutrition programs that's also a direct food program."
Almost 40 years later the program has expanded and plays a key role in Mesa County. Helping low income pregnant women, breast feeding mothers and children eat healthier for the past 17 years. "Our local WIC numbers have increased by 11 percent over last year and we are serving about 3 thousand participants on a monthly basis," says, Stiles.
Kennedy also introduced legislation that established permanent funding to programs like the Gray Gourmet, here in Mesa County that delivers meals to the elderly. Sharon Meiklejohn project supervisor for Gray Gourmet say, "Today we served 500 meals. Today we don't think of people as necessarily being hungry but we do find people who have nutritional needs and we try to serve that need."
While Senator Kennedy will leave a legacy of hard work and bipartisan effort in the legislature his memory will also be shadowed by a dark cloud of past mistakes. Kearsley says, "The family did get privilege that wouldn't have been granted to others and he paid the price for it."
Now at a time when America is struggling with health care reform, talk on the street turns to how the senator's death will affect the process. But one thing is for certain, the lion's roar will echo in the halls of the senate for years to come.
Kennedy served in the senate for nearly 50 years along side 10 presidents. He was at his home at the time of his death.