BOSTON (WWLP) – President Barack Obama and 2008 election rival John McCain were among the many famed political figures who traveled to Boston Monday to attend the dedication of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate. The institute, located on the campus of the University of Massachusetts at Boston, was a dream of the late Senator Kennedy.
Kennedy, one of the most prominent liberal voices in the Senate, represented Massachusetts from 1962 through his death in 2008. President Obama said that despite being known as an icon on the American left, Kennedy had a great ability to compromise, and was able to work well with his Republican rivals. The president also praised Kennedy’s work, particularly on the issue of healthcare, one that has defined much of his presidency.
The $79 million institute includes a life-sized recreation of the U.S. Senate Chamber and is located next to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. The president alluded to Senator Kennedy’s family ties, noting that by the age of 36 “two of his brothers were stolen from him in the most tragic and public of ways.”
Other guests at the dedication included Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Massachusetts Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, former Senate Majority Leaders Trent Lott and Tom Daschle, and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh. Senator Kennedy’s sons, Connecticut State Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Jr. and former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy also spoke speaking at the event.
Kennedy’s longtime colleague representing Massachusetts, Secretary of State John Kerry, was originally scheduled to be at the dedication, but he could not make it.
At the ceremony Monday, 22News spoke with Berkshire County State Representative “Smitty” Pignatelli, who he said he’s honored to be at the event and reflected on the late Senator’s legacy.
“It’s very historic day. I was excited to be invited to be here with this illustrious crowd, honoring the ‘Lion of the Senate.’ This is really quite a humbling experience. I don’t think we’ll ever live long enough to see another Ted Kennedy. So I’m honored to be here today,” Pignatelli said.
The institute opens to the public on Tuesday at 9:00 A.M.