Farewell, Uncle Teddy, Senator and Army Vet

By now most know Edward M. Kennedy, Senate lawmaker and leader in the healthcare debate, has passed away. While some have disagreed with his positions on certain issues, few can argue with his dedication, conviction and his genuine concern for those less fortunate.

Though not widely known for his commitment to defense, Kennedy served on the Armed Services subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities, the subcommittee on personnel, and chaired the subcommittee on seapower. He was also a friend of the service member and military families. In 1989, Kennedy sponsored the Military Child Care Act. He supported other personnel issues.

Uncle Teddy also supported equality in the forces voting to remove combat barriers to women.

Kennedy made differences in personal ways. An NPR segment recently reported his personal sailing invitation to a Sept. 11 widow. According to one Naval Academy graduate, it seems her husband was a veteran and 1981 Annapolis graduate.

Though long overshadowed by his older brother John’s fabled World War II naval service, Uncle Teddy was a veteran. Maybe not the greatest patriot at the time, the youngest Kennedy had been kicked out of Harvard and joined the Army. He served 1951-1953, during the height of the Korean War. He trained at Fort Dix, NJ, and it seems he requested to be trained in intelligence. Instead, he ended up an MP and was stationed with the honor guard at Supreme Allied Headquarters Europe, Paris . He was discharged a private first class, though some accounts maintain he never made it past private. Not exactly party-boy turned accidental war hero like John McCain, nor was he (thankfully) a Jim “Women Can’t Fight” Webb, but his service is more than most.

There has been some wailing over Kennedy’s burial at Arlington Cemetery. Arlington’s guidelines clearly state those elected to a U.S. government office with honorable military service may rest at Arlington. Teddy qualifies.

Edward M. Kennedy, U.S. senator and Army veteran, will be laid to rest Saturday at Arlington National Cemetery near brothers John and Robert.

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