Senator Edward Kennedy

A legend in life, a moment in death.  Such is the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy.


For many of us, this is not just the passing of a man.  It is the end of an era, and undoubtedly a new beginning.  This was the last survivor of a family that did not so much live out loud as it lived in view.  This was a family that knew unimaginable heights, yet suffered unspeakable losses.  And now the last is gone.


I don’t have personal recollections of the Senator.  Like you, I viewed him from afar.  But as I listened to the broadcasts this morning, it came to mind that he had been so many personae to so many people.  He was a champion, he was a legend, he was humane.  He was also frail, and he was human.  He achieved great things, and caused great sorrow.  But he also was offered forgiveness, found his way, and touched the lives of millions.  In a sense he was different from us while at the same time he was like so many of us.


To the health community, he was a champion. He was a politician to be certain, representing the interests of his constituents with vigor and passion.  But he was also known as a conciliator, someone who could reach out for solutions when reaching out was the right thing to do.


For the cancer community, he was a strong advocate.  He recently was honored by the American Cancer Society with our Medal of Honor and the National Distinguished Advocacy Award.  Not only did he honor our cause with his commitment and his efforts, he knew personally the travesties of the disease.  How sad that he lost his life in a battle that has been shared by so many, and for which he had tried to do so much.


There is no question but that his heart was in health care reform.  It was a longstanding dream for him, and he was indeed a champion for the hope that we could achieve access to quality care for all.  His loss has already been felt, and our prayer is that his legacy will bring reason and honor to the table to accomplish what so many believe is so necessary for the well-being of our country.


Life is to be lived, and passing is inevitable.  Our lives don’t follow straight and narrow paths, and who among us has not strayed from that path at some time in our journey?


To be noble is to never forget the errors of our ways, and to seek to do better.  We measure our present and our future against where we have been.  We must always strive to do more than we can, to be better than we have been.


In this light, we can be thankful for the life of Senator Kennedy. 


May God grant his family comfort in his memory in this moment of their loss.  May we celebrate the memory of this man for what he has done for the humanity of us all.


J. Leonard Lichtenfeld's Biography

Dr. Len

J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, MD, MACP: Dr. Lichtenfeld currently serves as Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the American Cancer Society in the Society's Office of the Chief Medical Officer located at the Society's Corporate Center in Atlanta. Dr. Lichtenfeld joined the Society in 2001 as a medical editor, and in 2002 assumed responsibility for managing the Society's then newly created Cancer Control Science Department which included the prevention and early detection of cancer, emerging cancer science and trends, health equity, quality of life for cancer patients, the science of cancer communications and the role of nutrition and physical activity in cancer prevention and cancer care.  In 2014, Dr. Lichtenfeld assumed his current role in the Office of the Chief Medical Officer where he provides extensive support to a number of Society colleagues and activities. As a result of his over four decades of experience in cancer care, Dr. Lichtenfeld is frequently quoted in the print and electronic media regarding the Society's positions on a number of important issues related to cancer. He has testified regularly in legislative and regulatory hearings, and participated on numerous panels regarding cancer care, research, advocacy and related topics. He has served on a number of advisory committees and boards for organizations that collaborate with the Society to reduce the burden of cancer nationally and worldwide. He is well known for his blog ( which first appeared in 2005 and which continues to address many topics related to cancer research and treatment. A board certified medical oncologist and internist who was a practicing physician for over 19 years, Dr. Lichtenfeld has long been engaged in health care policy on a local, state, and national level.  He is active in several state and national medical organizations and has a long-standing interest in professional legislative and regulatory issues related to health care including physician payment, medical care delivery systems, and health information technology. Dr. Lichtenfeld is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Hahnemann Medical College (now Drexel University College of Medicine) in Philadelphia.  His postgraduate training was at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the National Cancer Institute in Baltimore. He is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha, the national honor medical society.  Dr. Lichtenfeld has received several awards in recognition of his efforts on behalf of his colleagues and his professional activities.  He has been designated a Master of the American College of Physicians in acknowledgement of his contributions to internal medicine.  Dr. Lichtenfeld is married, and resides in Atlanta and Thomasville, Georgia.

1 thought on “Senator Edward Kennedy

  1. “His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives, in seniors who know new dignity, in families that know new opportunity, in children who know education’s promise, and in all who can pursue their dream in an America that is more equal and more just,” our president said.


    The cause of Kennedy’s life: “We must begin to move now to establish a comprehensive national health insurance program, capable of bringing the same amount and high quality of health care to every man, woman, and child in the United States.” In 1971, he led the charge to quadruple the amount of money the federal government spent to fight cancer with the Federal Cancer Research Program.


    As part of the current push to reform health insurance, his Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passed a health care reform bill with a public option that is necessary to expand coverage and bring down health care costs. Whatever your political persuasion, he was a fighter for the common person.

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