September 9th, 2009
09:16 PM ET
13 years ago

Kennedy to Obama: 'There will be struggles' over health care

The White House has released the text of the letter from the late Sen. Ted Kennedy that President Obama referenced in his address to Congress:

May 12, 2009

Dear Mr. President,

I wanted to write a few final words to you to express my gratitude for your repeated personal kindnesses to me – and one last time, to salute your leadership in giving our country back its future and its truth.

On a personal level, you and Michelle reached out to Vicki, to our family and me in so many different ways. You helped to make these difficult months a happy time in my life.

You also made it a time of hope for me and for our country.

When I thought of all the years, all the battles, and all the memories of my long public life, I felt confident in these closing days that while I will not be there when it happens, you will be the President who at long last signs into law the health care reform that is the great unfinished business of our society. For me, this cause stretched across decades; it has been disappointed, but never finally defeated. It was the cause of my life. And in the past year, the prospect of victory sustained me-and the work of achieving it summoned my energy and determination.

There will be struggles – there always have been – and they are already underway again. But as we moved forward in these months, I learned that you will not yield to calls to retreat – that you will stay with the cause until it is won. I saw your conviction that the time is now and witnessed your unwavering commitment and understanding that health care is a decisive issue for our future prosperity. But you have also reminded all of us that it concerns more than material things; that what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.

And so because of your vision and resolve, I came to believe that soon, very soon, affordable health coverage will be available to all, in an America where the state of a family’s health will never again depend on the amount of a family’s wealth. And while I will not see the victory, I was able to look forward and know that we will – yes, we will – fulfill the promise of health care in America as a right and not a privilege.

In closing, let me say again how proud I was to be part of your campaign- and proud as well to play a part in the early months of a new era of high purpose and achievement. I entered public life with a young President who inspired a generation and the world. It gives me great hope that as I leave, another young President inspires another generation and once more on America’s behalf inspires the entire world.

So, I wrote this to thank you one last time as a friend- and to stand with you one last time for change and the America we can become.

At the Denver Convention where you were nominated, I said the dream lives on.

And I finished this letter with unshakable faith that the dream will be fulfilled for this generation, and preserved and enlarged for generations to come.

With deep respect and abiding affection,


Filed under: Health care • Popular Posts • President Obama • Ted Kennedy
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Concerned

    I strongly believe healthcare will pass this year. I believe every American deserve the best healthcare possible and no one should be denied because of wealth, creed or race.

    This should not be a Democrat or Republican issue; it should be an issue for every American.

    I can't recall having gone to the doctor and was asked; are you a Democrat or Republican? This first question ask is; do you have insurance.

    I am fortunate to have insurance and I have seen people who don't suffer. It is time for everyone to know and trust that he or she can be cared for.

    September 9, 2009 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  2. vanney

    I am a Federal employee but now a Federal Retired Disable employee, I have good health insurance but my co-payment are over the top. I beleive the President's speech was open and forthcoming; the Republicans and Democratics as fighting over a helath care reform that does not invlove themselves nor their families but millions of
    Americans that can not afford health because they need to eat. I also think the Republican Senator that called out "liar" to the President should lose his job. I know he was elected by the people and can not be fired as I stated I am a Federal employee BUT he should. That was unnecessary and out roght rude. The President is the President and desires respect and that chamber should not have be disrespected in that way.
    Ted Kennedy's letters was touching and eleglant as the man himself.

    September 9, 2009 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  3. vic nashville , Tn

    There won’t be struggle from today onwards

    September 9, 2009 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  4. Bill

    Wow. So gracious at a time when others would be thinking only of themselves. You may not agree with everything he stood for, but you cannot deny he worked hard, tirelessly, for what he believed in and showed us what is means to be a bipartisan politician. For all his failings he will be remembered as a great senator who represented his constituents well and cared for this country! That he could write this letter is not surprising based on all that I have heard recently about he reached out to people on both sides of the aisle as human being to humna being. We should all be so caring about our fellow human being.

    September 9, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  5. Mary Potter

    I was a Federal employee for 25+ years and had to retire due to disability in 2002. I was 54 years old at that time. I AM NOT eligible to draw any monies under social security because I didn't have enought quarters. BUT I do have MEDICARE because I paid into the system my entire life. I use my Federal retirement pension as disability. I have the same type of government insurance option that CONGRESS has and I utilize that as my "Part D" for Medicare. I HAVE HAD "ZERO" issues with Meicare and I have an extreme amount of claims with all of my medical issues.


    Would this happent if he were caucasian and a Republican? BTW, I am a Female, 60 yrs old.

    September 9, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  6. Jayden,FL

    Really nice letter..

    September 9, 2009 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  7. Dawn Ada, Ohio

    Thank you Mr. sir, were a very special man, who inspires me to be a better person. I too am a proud civil servant and I will continue to do what I can to help this country be the best place it can be. I too am more than proud of our President.........tonite he showed the world what he is made of. A man who stands up for what is right for all not just some.

    September 9, 2009 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  8. willys nyabiosi

    Thanks for the insipiration Ted . Rest in peace . The Dream lives on forever .

    September 9, 2009 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  9. jts

    Is anyone surprised that a middle aged white guy from the south thinks its okay to yell and call the first AA POTUS a liar during a world wide televised address to Congress? Why do people continue to suggest that there is no element of racism at the base of the criticisms and opposition of Pres. Obama? Wilson's hate so overwhelmed him that he could not contain himself. So sad.

    September 9, 2009 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  10. gino

    If there is a more eloquent letter on the books I don't know of it. God bless you Ted and rest in peace. God bless America.

    September 9, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  11. Tom

    1930s - Republicans oppose Social Security... "will lead this country into communism". Not a single yes vote. 1960s - Republicans oppose Medicare ... "will kill private insurance" ... "government takeover". Not a single yes vote. Neither allegations were true or became true. Which program does your grandparents want to get rid of? How about the Socialist/Marxist PUBLIC school you went to? or the Socialist/Marxist Public Fire Dept? Socialist/Marxist Public Library? Police Dept? Armed Services? All Government run. None of them have run any private enterprise "out of business".

    The Public Option is just that, AN OPTION.

    Do we want to fall for the same scare tactics and bogus claims from the people who wanted to kill and still want to kill Social Security or Medicare?

    September 9, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  12. JES

    Nothing like playing the pity card.

    Give me a break. You said 14,000 people have to drop their insurance every day that's over 5,000,000 a year are you sure your numbers are right.

    As long as we have the government involved in the business sector it will cost tax payers more money and more chances of fraud.

    You can't please everyone.

    September 9, 2009 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  13. Bill

    Mr. Obama, you're not in Chicago anymore.

    September 9, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  14. REA

    What a nice letter and to a wonderful man The President Of The United States Of America. Thank You Senator Kennedy and Thank You President Obama

    September 9, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  15. Dan in Massachusetts

    Kinda hard to write this while wiping away the tears but Ted was a man who, with all the human failings that come with being a man, could definitely put the greater good for American in sharp focus.

    September 9, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  16. Kara106

    Thank you, Senator Kennedy. Your words speak beyond the end of your time on this Earth and have moved the country tonight. We will get beyond the idiocy that has characterized this debate and realize your dream. And the American people will be better for it, as with so many changes Republicans have always opposed like Medicare and Social Security that they now pretend to champion. They really can't fool us every time. You speak for so many...

    September 9, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  17. Sharon Douglas

    Obama set the goals for reform...also he raised good points on our cost of health care. Great job!

    September 9, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  18. mary from minnesota

    Oh, teddy, you will be missed. Thank you, posthumously, for providing guidance to our young President.

    September 9, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  19. Nebiyou Gebretatios

    An inspiring letter from Senator Kennedy and an inspiring speech from the president. The best part of the letter was the part was when he mentioned his brother. "I entered public life with a young President who inspired a generation and the world. It gives me great hope that as I leave, another young President inspires another generation".
    I on the other hand am glad that i am living when this president makes Change happen.
    i hope both the Republicans and Democrats grow up and make decisions that benefits the United States.

    September 9, 2009 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  20. Greg

    how touching.
    If only Obama's proposal actually would make health care a right and insure every American I would be proud

    September 9, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  21. ledia

    Cant stop crying!

    September 9, 2009 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  22. DJ

    What a touching letter.... RIP Senator.

    September 9, 2009 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  23. Jim

    KENNEDY IS THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS, THERE IS NO DOUBT! THE LAST LION OF THE SENATE! I REALLY HATE TO SE WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN NOW..I JIMMY McCosker cannot express the sorrow i have for his family. I am very sorry for the Kennedy"s loss! that family was a household terminolgy my entire forty nine years of life! This Country has also suffered a great loss of the Kennedys! I hope that the President of the US will achieve a great deal out of Edward Kennedys Letter. I have the highest reguard for the President! I know he will do what he believes is best for THE PEOPLE,IF THE SENATE AND CONGRESS STOP, THINK, AND BACK THE PRESIDENT! BREAK SOME RECORDS,IT WOULD BE WONDERFUL, DON"T YOU JUST KNOW IT!

    September 9, 2009 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  24. Azulite Rondeau

    How lovely.

    Warm regards,

    September 9, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  25. Reno

    Ted Kennedy had vision in his last days to see that President Obama is a person of conviction and strength to deliver a health care mandate to the people of America. Let this happen soon.

    September 9, 2009 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
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