Whatever wrong the late Sen. Ted Kennedy had done earlier in his life, George Mason University professors Hugh Gusterson and Allison Macfarlane are satisfied the youngest of the Kennedy brothers subsequently redeemed himself in the Senate. "He might have been flawed, but he was also passionate and righteous," Gusterson said.
He was probably echoing the views of the 150-strong crowd who had gathered at the heart of Washington D.C in a hastily arranged candlelight vigil for the late Senator Wednesday evening. For an hour or so, the north side of the Dupont Circle fountain turned into a makeshift memorial for the late senator from Massachusetts.
"I only emailed a few people about this vigil at about 11 this morning," said Tom Matzzie, 34, a political consultant who used to work for MoveOn.org. But by late afternoon, a facebook event was also created. Word of the vigil had also spread over Twitter feeds and various Web sites, including Politico.
A somber affair with lit candles, signs prepared by organizers and songs sung in remembrance of Sen. Kennedy's public service, it was a gathering of people of all ages. There were the seniors, such as 77-year-old Eric Cox. "There are many politicians who share my progressive political values," he said. "But there are not many like Ted Kennedy: hardworking and efficient."
Then there were Gusterson and Macfarlane. The married couple, who lived in Massachusetts when they were professors at MIT from 1992-2006, came with their two children in tow. "In Sen. Kennedy, we have lost a voice who can frame [the health care reform] as a moral issue," said Gusterson, 50.
Admiration for Sen. Kennedy also extends to the rest of the Gusterson family. "We were in the car and the kids were as usual, not interested in what we were listening on NPR," the older Gusterson said, "But when Kennedy's voice came on, it arrested Graham's attention enough for him to ask about the Senator."
"His voice was just weird," the younger Gusterson, 7, said sheepishly. "He sounded old, but also in some ways, young."