Memories of Ted will live forever
Although I was slightly intimidated by the enormity of the situation and those all around me, I was somewhat comforted by the presence of Senator Ted Kennedy and his vivacious handshake.
It may have been a fleeting moment but one that I will never forget.
“Hello,” said Kennedy, as he shook my hand and smiled.
“Hello Senator, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” I replied, or something along those cordial lines.
This snapshot moment took place in the conference room the hotel in Washington on March 7, 2006.
Prior to my reporting days I was a sign language interpreter, and it certainly was advantageous that March when ILIR needed someone to interpret at a rally for three deaf Irish undocumented immigrants who had traveled to Washington to hear from the politicians on the ground.
Kennedy was the leader of the pack that cold March afternoon, and he was wonderful.
Not only had I the privilege of meeting the senator face to face, I had the pleasure of sharing space on stage with him.
During my short-lived career as an interpreter in Ireland I had interpreted speeches for many dignitaries, including Kennedy’s niece, Maria Shriver, at the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics in Dublin in 2002, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d meet, let alone have the pleasure of interpreting the words, of Senator Kennedy. It was a day I’ll never forget.
As he made his way onto the stage he took the time to shake my hand, smile graciously and say hello. He had no idea who I was, but he must have known that a handshake from him meant the world to this Kerry woman.
As I proudly stood before 3,000 undocumented Irish and their supporters I let the words of Senator Kennedy flow from my hands.
“Yes, we can,” he roared while referring to the potential enactment of comprehensive immigration reform later that year.
“We will not give up until we get this passed,” he continued.
He gave hope and joy to the 3,000 undocumented sitting before him that day. He gave me the chills. He wasn’t just a politician that day, he was a humanitarian and a friend to the Irish. I was blown away.