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Cancer-Stricken Ted Kennedy Addresses the Democratic Convention



U.S. Democratic Party liberal icon Ted Kennedy, who is battling brain cancer, made an unscheduled appearance at the Democratic National Convention Monday night in what was a high point of the evening. VOA's Deborah Tate reports from the convention site in Denver.

His voice strong, and face beaming, Senator Kennedy looked remarkably good for someone who has undergone six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation.

"My fellow Democrats, my fellow Americans, it is so wonderful to be here, and nothing, nothing, is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight," he said.

The 76-year-old Kennedy, who collapsed in May at his home in Massachusetts, underwent surgery in June to help ease the swelling in his brain.

Kennedy was an early supporter of presumptive Democratic Party nominee Barack Obama, and campaigned with him before he fell ill.

Kennedy has been a regular fixture at Democratic conventions. But his appearance Monday had been unexpected because doctors were concerned about his weakened system because of cancer treatment. But family members say he was determined to go.

Kennedy is remembered for a rousing speech he gave at the 1980 convention, when he used the words "the dream shall never die" after his own unsuccessful bid to win the party's nomination against incumbent President Jimmy Carter.

On Monday, he evoked the same words as he called on delegates to support Obama.

"This November, the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans. So with Barack Obama and for you, and for me, our country will be committed to his cause," he said. "The work begins anew, the hope rises again, and the dream lives on."

Despite his bleak medical prognosis, Kennedy sounded a hopeful note, pledging to return to the Senate in January.

His eighth six-year term expires in 2012.

Before he spoke, delegates watched a short film highlighting Kennedy's life-long devotion to social causes.

Kennedy was introduced by his niece, Caroline Kennedy, the only surviving child of assassinated President John F. Kennedy.

The senator's last public appearance was in July, when he made a brief visit to Washington to cast the deciding Senate vote to pass Medicare legislation.

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