And the work shall go on

By Daniel Rothberg

Just two weeks ago, a hero of mine, Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy, died. Known as “The Lion of the Senate,” Kennedy made it his mission to better the circumstances of millions of Americans. Like his brothers, President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Ted Kennedy fought fervently to shape the future of America.

One reason I admire Kennedy is that although he was born into a wealthy family, he never ceased to fight on behalf of the downtrodden.

Kennedy believed that “every American should have the opportunity to receive a quality education, a job that respects their dignity and protects their safety, and health care that does not condemn those whose health is impaired to a lifetime of poverty and lost opportunity.”

From securing an increase in the minimum wage to insuring millions of children in the State Children Health Insurance Program, Kennedy dramatically improved the living conditions for many Americans.

Coming from a well to do family, Kennedy could have lived a comfortable life, sailing and golfing; however, he chose a more selfless path, devoting more than half of his life to public service. In this respect, I believe Kennedy can serve as an example for many of us.

Many students come from extremely affluent backgrounds, just as Kennedy did. I urge students to follow Kennedy’s example by taking an active approach to help change the lives of those less fortunate.

As the year begins, I suggest students actively look for ways to give back to society. One way students can help improve the lives of many Americans is by engaging in the healthcare debate. In the ensuing days, the fate of comprehensive healthcare reform, an issue championed by Kennedy, will be decided. Forty-six million American men, women and children are uninsured.

It is a travesty that anyone is denied insurance in this country. But it is especially disgusting that children, like you and me, live without healthcare just because of the circumstance of their birth.

As Kennedy did, we have a unique opportunity to insure these children and many more Americans by helping Congress pass legislation that makes healthcare accessible for all Americans.

Some ways you can urge Congress to pass comprehensive healthcare reform are by writing a letter to your Congressman, calling his or her office, or volunteering for a political organization.

Kennedy saw it as his duty to use his voice for those who did not have one. Let us start out this school year doing the same. Let us speak for the uninsured, the unemployed and the underprivileged, continuing Kennedy’s mission to selflessly serve those who are less fortunate.

As the “Lion of the Senate” once said, “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.”