​nlEdward M. Kennedy

True Compass: A Memior


Edward "Ted' Kennedy is a leading liberal Massachusetts senator who serves in the senate for 46 years. He attends Harvard University and eventually graduates from the University of Virginia's Law School. After graduating, Ted helps his brother, John F. Kennedy, with the 1960 presidential campaign in which John takes the victory over Richard Nixon. Ted then takes the opportunity of the empty senate seat to take his brothers place in which he did in 1962. While in the senate, he supports bills that help improve voters' rights, education, fair wages, immigration reform, and national service. Ted is a strong nominee during the 1980 presidential nominations, but he soon pulls himself out of the race. Many controversies arise during his life that are described later in the quotes section. In 2008 he is diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor but continues his work in the senate. President Barack Obama awards Ted Kennedy with the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, but he soon dies thereafter on August 25, 2009 (Britannica).
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(True Compass: Ted Kennedy Discusses His Life in New Autobiography)
​...."if you perservere, stick with it, work at it, you have a real opportunity to achieve something. Sure, there will be storms along the way. And you might not reach your goal right away. But if you do your best and keep a true compass, you'll get there"(Kennedy 507).

This passage sums up the whole five-hundred page book in very few words. This shows why Ted Kennedy decides to use True Compass as the title of his memoir. His fundamentals on life are that a person who stays on track and maintains themselves in a orderly manner, he/she would be able to do anything that this person has a dream about doing. This proposal will not only work for big goals in life but also smaller ones that do sometimes seem not to matter. In many ways this applies to the malignant brain tumor that Ted figures out he has in 2008. He did everything he could, but after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, he dies ten days later peacefully in his home.

"He [John F. Kennedy] declared that he would offer the American people challenges, not conforting promises; and he introduced a thrilling new phrase as the descriptive term for his program. 'Today our concern much be with the future,' he called out. 'For the world is changing. The old era is ending.The old ways will not do'"(Kennedy 150).​

Ted Kennedy campaigns for his brother, John Kennedy in the western states until he defeats Richard Nixon in the 1960 Presidential election. This is not only an important time in Jack's career but also for Ted. This ends the senatorial career of John but is the new beginning of a soon to be Senator Ted Kennedy. In 1962 Ted is elected to the Senate by way of his brother’s old seat. This is the start of a forty-six year term that he would spend in the United States Senate. In many ways this strengthens the relationship between Jack and Ted because of the long hours spent campaigning with one another.
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(1960 election- JFK prematurely declared the winner)

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....as much as Vicki and I had seen each other at various events over the years, I think that anniversary dinner party night was the first time I really saw Vicki. I helped her as she took the place setting away from the date I didn't bring, and I hung out with her in the kitchen as she prepared dinner. We shared easy conversation about issues of the day and spent a lot of the evening laughing. I hadn't felt that relaxed or lighthearted in a long time(Kennedy 423).

Vicki came into Ted's life permanently at a very important time in which he says that "I had to amit that I'd stopped looking forward to things"(Kennedy 421). Vicki not only provids a very fun person to be around but also a good companion to have on the campaign trail for the Senate. She proves to help Ted in woman's votes in order to seek reelections in 1994. Aside from politics, Vicki's children, Curran and Caroline, were already close to Ted before he started dating Vicki. Ted would play sports with Curran and spend the afternoons drawing or painting pictures with Caroline.

"The nineties were a happy time for me, years in which my love for Vicki and my Senate work deepened. Yet it was also a time of loss. I've already described the devastation I felt when Steve Smith dies, but we also mourned the passing of four other loves who captivated us and so many others"(Kennedy 475).

During the 1990s, Ted explains how hard and joyful his life was at that time during his life. The more significant of the four deaths he experiences during that time is the death of his mother, Rose Kennedy. Although Ted knows it is comming, he felt as if "the legs had been knocked out from under me"(Kennedy 476) when his mother dies. Also Michael Kennedy, Ted Kennedy's nephew of thirty-nine years, is tragically killed in a skiing accident when he collides into a tree near Aspen, Colorado. This is specifically disturbing for Ted, since he comes to grow very closely with this young man in his 1994 campaign for reelection in the senate.
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"One of the great lessons I've learned from a life in politics is that no reform is ever truely complete. We must constantly keep moving forward, seeking ways to create that more perfect union. In my personal life, I kept moving to avoid the tragedy behind me. As a senator, that same motivation has been a blessing"(Kennedy 506).

This idea of moving forward happens in both Ted's career in the Senate and his personal life to different extents depending on which of the two a person is talking about. The Chappaquiddick incident, which is explained in the next quote, is a prime example of Kennedy's idea of moving on after a catastrophe in his personal life. He receives lots of bad comments about his actions on that night, but he breaks through them in order to start rebuilding himself as an influential senator. The connotation that no bill in the senate is ever completed created a base for which Ted lives by in the senate. This helps him to be the successful liberal senator that Ted is. He passes many bills protecting voter’s rights, consumer protection, and fair housing.


"I was afraid. I was overwhelmed. I made terrible decisions. Even though I was dazed from my concussion, exausted,shock, and panic, I was rational enough to understand that the accident would be devastating to my family. They had suffered so much, and now they would be forced to suffer again because of me. And I knew it would be damaging to my political career as well"(Kennedy 291).

On July 18, 1969, Ted drives his car off the bridge (pictured) into the water, drowning 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne. Ted survives, but he flees the scene of the accident. This mishap begins to pick away at Ted Kennedy's reputation as a Senator and person. Many controversies were started in his name as a result of this. Many thought he was having an affair, since he had this young girl in his car on a weekend night. In True Compass, Ted Kennedy clearly explains that "we had no romantic relationship whatsoever"(Kennedy 292). Ted felt for the first time in his life that he is responsible for the death of this young woman, since he was the driver that night.


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The Bridge that Ted Kennedy drove off, killing Mary Jo Kopechne.
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In conclusion, Edward "Ted" Kennedy is one of the most prominent figures in the United States Senate today even though he is now deceased. He has lots to live up to while he is young because of his two older brothers. Indeed he does this in various aspects of his life in which he has both misfortunes and joy. Those positive and negative events attribute to his successful career and the sucess of he himself as a person. Many people of today look up to him for the person he is. As Ted describes in his book,"...you might not reach your goal right away. But if you do your best and keep a true compass, you'll get there"(Kennedy 507).
Works Cited:
"1960 election- JFK prematurely declared the winner" 12 Nov. 2009.Web.<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkYCAov9zi4>

"581px-Ted_Kennedy_2C_official_photo_portrait1" 10 Nov. 2009.Web.<http://www.tncp.net/Portals/21/2009/581px-Ted_Kennedy_2C_official_photo_portrait1.jpg>

"chappaquiddick-incident" 18 Nov. 2009.Web.<http://wearestjohns.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/chappaquiddick-incident.jpg>

Edward, Kennedy. True Compass. New York: Twelve, 2009. page nr. Print.

"Image3" 18 Nov. 2009.Web.<http://www.tedkennedy.org/gallery/photos/growing_up#/page/-/legacy/galleries/growingup/Image3.jpg>

"Image9" 18 Nov. 2009.Web.<http://www.tedkennedy.org/gallery/photos/growing_up#/page//legacy/galleries/growingup/Image9.jpg>

"Kennedy, Ted." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2009. Web. 16 Nov. 2009 <http://school.eb.com/eb/article-9045084> .

"Kenndey%20and%20Vicki%20Reggie" 8 Nov.2009.Web.<http://www.lafayettegrapevine.com/file/sns_uploads/1/images/Kenndey%20and%20Vicki%20Reggie.jpg>

"thumb" 20 Nov. 2009.Web.<http://school.eb.com/all/eb/article-9045084?query=ted%20kennedy&ct=null>

"True Compass: Ted Kennedy Discusses His Life in New Autobiography" 10 Nov. 2009.Web.<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4o3OnhPDWrE>