Mr. Dahle Goes to St. Paul


Ted Kennedy

Ted Kennedy stopped by the campus of the University of Northern Iowa in 1980 as a Presidential candidate for the Democratic endorsement. I was there that day. The campus was abuzz waiting to catch a glimpse of this famous Kennedy and hear the stump speech prepared for the college students gathered. It was a good speech, but not a great speech. Of course, Kennedy never did unseat Jimmy Carter for the nomination that year and he eventually settled in to a long and distinguished career in the United States Senate.

I have heard Senator Kennedy speak several times since then…with much more passion and with greater purpose and direction. He has delivered great speeches and important legislation. Over these several years I have grown to admire and appreciate his work on issues such as health care, minimum wage, mental health, the Americans with Disabilities Act, children’s health insurance, and civil rights. America has lost a great statesman. His knowledge of issues, his leadership, and his willingness to work across party lines will be missed.

“The more our feelings diverge, the more deeply felt they are, the greater is our obligation to grant the sincerity and essential decency of our fellow citizens on the other side. . . .

In short, I hope for an America where neither “fundamentalist” nor “humanist” will be a dirty word, but a fair description of the different ways in which people of good will look at life and into their own souls.

I hope for an America where no president, no public official, no individual will ever be deemed a greater or lesser American because of religious doubt — or religious belief.

I hope for an America where the power of faith will always burn brightly, but where no modern inquisition of any kind will ever light the fires of fear, coercion, or angry division.

I hope for an America where we can all contend freely and vigorously, but where we will treasure and guard those standards of civility which alone make this nation safe for both democracy and diversity.”

Ted Kennedy, “On Truth and Tolerance,” 1983