Leaders Mark Kennedy’s Passing
By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 26, 2009 The national security advisor today expressed admiration for Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who succumbed to brain cancer yesterday.
Retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, who rose through the ranks to become the Marine commandant and supreme allied commander for Europe, came to know Kennedy years earlier while working as a Senate liaison officer in the early 1980s -- a relationship that greatly contributed to the general’s “Washington education,” he said.
“I had the opportunity to get to know Sen. Edward Kennedy, who was then a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee,” Jones said in a statement. “Senator Kennedy and his staff were among some of the best supporters the Marine Corps ever had on Capitol Hill.
“Despite his many responsibilities, he always made time for me on issues of importance to Marines and their families,” he added.
The general’s praise is part of a greater outpouring that came when news broke of 77-year-old Kennedy’s death. To honor the so-called “Lion of Senate,” President Barack Obama today ordered that flags be flown at half-staff at the White House and at other public buildings.
Regarding Kennedy’s relationship with the military, Jones remembered him as a champion of legislation such as the Goldwater-Nichols act, which vastly reorganized the armed forces as a joint structure, and of military pay reforms, which ushered in the most comprehensive reforms of the military and defense establishment since the end of World War II.
Kennedy deserves to be honored for his genuine care and compassion for American men and women in uniform, which are reflected in the senator’s tireless work and voting record on behalf of the military, Jones said.
“While he never shied from challenging our senior military leadership during hundreds of committee hearings, he could always be counted on to be fair and open-minded in letting witnesses like me make our case to the committee and to the American people,” he said.
In a presidential proclamation today, Obama characterized Kennedy not only as one of the greatest senators of modern times, but also one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve the nation.
“Over the past half-century, nearly every major piece of legislation that has advanced the civil rights, health, and economic well-being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts,” Obama said in a White House statement. “With his passing, an important chapter in our American story has come to an end.”