My Interview with Senator Kennedy
Kennedy wanted a legacy of hard work for children's rights, he told this Kid Reporter.
Back in 2004, when I was an 11-year-old Scholastic Kid Reporter, I covered the Democratic National Convention, attending numerous state delegation meetings and caucuses. I had many great experiences, but my most memorable one was my encounter with Senator Ted Kennedy.
I attended a delegation breakfast where he and then-Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack spoke. Kennedy spoke passionately about his interest in education. Following his speech, I weaved and tried to politely push my way through the crowd to get close enough to get his attention. I was eager to ask this notable and influential senator a question or two.
A large group of reporters trotted after the Senator as he left the event. I was with Scholastic Editors and two other Kid Reporters, including my little sister, Elizabeth. We were trying to stay ahead of the pack, when a man with a large camera on his shoulder swung around to get a shot of the Senator walking. I was so close to both of them that the camera hit me right on the head!
With a big throbbing egg on my forehead, I managed to pull myself together and keep running. Within moments, Senator Kennedy had stopped and was looking right at me. Wow!
Lots of other reporters had gathered around and were shouting out questions. Bright lights from the TV cameras were practically blinding me. Despite the glare, I looked Senator Kennedy right in the eyes and asked him how he would like to be remembered. He thought about it a moment before answering. Despite the chaos around him, he gave a measured and sincere answer.
“I want to be remembered as someone who helped children, someone who cares for children,” he said. “Children need good schools to go to, a place to live, good food to eat. The most important thing for children is to have a good education.”
I paid close attention to every word he said as cameras clicked and other reporters shoved. From then on I remembered Senator Kennedy as the most important political figure I ever had the opportunity to interview.
When I woke up this morning, I was devastated to hear that Senator Kennedy died last night. He died in his home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, at the age of 77.
My first thoughts went back to my experience in 2004 and the question I had asked him. I know for sure that Senator Kennedy will be remembered as an outstanding public servant and so much more. His brother President John Kennedy once described him as “the best politician in the family.”
Senator Kennedy, who was known as the “last lion” of the senate, had a remarkable congressional career of 47 years. Only two other senators in history have served as long as he did.
His time in the senate was filled with many accomplishments. He was known—and often called—the most effective and hardworking legislator in Congress. He will forever be remembered as a great legacy from a family dynasty of legacies. President Obama said it all when he called Kennedy, “the greatest US Senator of our time.”
PHOTO: Scholastic Kid Reporter Alexandra Conway interviews Senator Edward Kennedy at a delegation breakfast during the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, July 29, 2004. Photo by Suzanne Freeman