Sen. Teddy Kennedy entered an elated stadium and extended a message that, “It is so wonderful to be here, and nothing — nothing — is going to keep me away form this gathering tonight.”
Kennedy’s surprise speech, filled with passion, came just hours after Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean smacked the gavel down, bringing the Democratic National Convention to order. Battling a malignant brain tumor, Kennedy, the senior senator from Massachusetts and the patriarch of the Kennedy family, vowed that he would stand strong on the floor of the United States Senate to watch Barack Obama sworn in as the next president.
“Yes we can, and finally, yes we will,” Kennedy vowed, to thunderous response from a convention hall filled with delegates waving blue placards bearing his name. His appearance followed a tribute delivered by his niece, Caroline Kennedy.
“I am here tonight to pay tribute to two men who have changed my life and the life of this country, Obama and Edward M. Kennedy,” she said. “Their stories are very different, but they share a commitment to the timeless American ideals of justice and fairness, service and sacrifice, faith and family…”
For 46 years, Caroline Kennedy said, her uncle has fought for access to health care for children, fighting for human rights, helping to end apartheid in South Africa, taking a stand against the war in Iraq.
In his opening remarks, Dean welcomed 4,223 delegates from 50 states, as well as Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, as well as other guests and some 15,000 journalists who have descended on Denver for the convention. Tonight’s keynote speech is to be delivered by the presumptive candidate for president’s wife, Michelle Obama.