Only a few Americans ever met Ted Kennedy, but millions of us know him well. As a member of a famous political famiily, his life story has been told and re-told along with that of his brothers in magazine articles, books, and documentaries. The public always had a huge appetite for everything Kennedy. It wasn't just that they were a powerful political family. It was that their humanity always showed through. Their marriages, deaths, divorces, the things we all endure in our own lives, were always carried out on a public stage. They were America's first and longest running reality show. Everybody could relate.
The weekend's television lineup will probably be heavy with tributes and recaps of Kennedy's life, as it should be, and some of that will probably rehash the Kennedy glamour.
But I hope what comes through are some of the ways Kennedy touched our lives with his political accomplishments -- fighting for civil rights, raising the minimum wage, transforming high school and college athletics by opening the door to women under Title IX, S-Chip to provide health care for children, creating Meals on Wheels, fighting for Medicare and Medicaid.
Ted Kennedy could have done whatever he wanted with his life. Lucky for us that he chose public service.