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Senator Kennedy, Champion of Universal Health Care, Dies at 77


A champion of liberalism in the United States has died. Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy, 77, succumbed to brain cancer late Tuesday night. His senate term spanned nearly 50 years and those who are mourning him.

His nickname was The Liberal Lion and it served him well. Passion, as defined by Senator Ted Kennedy, was politics. "The cause endures, hope still lives and the dream will never die," he said.

His dream was universal health care.

President Obama paid tribute the morning after Kennedy died. "He could passionately battle others and do so peerlessly on the Senate floor for the causes that he held dear, and yet still maintain warm friendships across party lines," the president said.

Senator Kennedy died at his home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts after battling brain cancer for more than a year. He served nearly fifty years in the U.S. Senate and was the last of three brothers who held high office: President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Senator Robert Kennedy was shot as he campaigned to be President.

Ted Kennedy will be buried next to his brothers at Arlington National Cemetary.

Flags flew at half staff at the Capitol as Americans remembered.

"I'm in the union and he was a good union man. And for the unions, he did a lot for us. It's a sad day," one person said.

"From the left side standpoint, I think he was probably the toughest guy there was as far as getting agendas pushed through," said another.

Accolades came in from around the globe, from the West Bank...to Australia.

"He has made an extraordinary contribution to American politics" said Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

"We hope that the heritage he has left will be continued in the direction of better attention to the Palestinian cause," said Mustafa Barghouti, Palestinian Legislative Council member.

Israeli President Shimon Peres remembered Kennedy's first visit in 1986 to learn about Israel's national health system. "He saw already at that time that health issues are going to be a central one for the American people," he said.

He carried his plea to the Democratic National Convention last year. "This is the cause of my life. New hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American ---north, south, east, west, young, old--- will have decent quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege," Kennedy said.

As President Obama pushes to get health care reform passed on Capitol Hill, analysts say he owes thanks to Ted Kennedy -- the man who fought tirelessly for what he called the "cause" of his life. Ted Kennedy, dead at age 77.

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